Endosomal Dysfunction Induced by Directly Overactivating Rab5 Recapitulates Prodromal and Neurodegenerative Features of Alzheimer's Disease

Cell Rep. 2020 Nov 24;33(8):108420. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108420.


Neuronal endosomal dysfunction, the earliest known pathobiology specific to Alzheimer's disease (AD), is mediated by the aberrant activation of Rab5 triggered by APP-β secretase cleaved C-terminal fragment (APP-βCTF). To distinguish pathophysiological consequences specific to overactivated Rab5 itself, we activate Rab5 independently from APP-βCTF in the PA-Rab5 mouse model. We report that Rab5 overactivation alone recapitulates diverse prodromal and degenerative features of AD. Modest neuron-specific transgenic Rab5 expression inducing hyperactivation of Rab5 comparable to that in AD brain reproduces AD-related Rab5-endosomal enlargement and mistrafficking, hippocampal synaptic plasticity deficits via accelerated AMPAR endocytosis and dendritic spine loss, and tau hyperphosphorylation via activated glycogen synthase kinase-3β. Importantly, Rab5-mediated endosomal dysfunction induces progressive cholinergic neurodegeneration and impairs hippocampal-dependent memory. Aberrant neuronal Rab5-endosome signaling, therefore, drives a pathogenic cascade distinct from β-amyloid-related neurotoxicity, which includes prodromal and neurodegenerative features of AD, and suggests Rab5 overactivation as a potential therapeutic target.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Rab5 hyperactivation; aberrant endosomal signaling; amyloid precursor protein; cholinergic neurodegeneration; endosomal dysfunction; memory impairment; spine loss; synaptic deficits; tau.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Endosomes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / genetics*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*


  • rab5 GTP-Binding Proteins