Wnt and R-spondin (Rspo) proteins are two major types of endogenous Wnt/β-catenin signaling agonists. While Wnt/β-catenin signaling is greatly diminished in Alzheimer's disease (AD), it remains to be elucidated whether the inhibition of this pathway is associated with dysregulation of Wnt and Rspo proteins. By analyzing temporal cortex RNA-seq data of the human postmortem brain samples, we found that WNT1 and RRPO2 were significantly downregulated in human AD brains. In addition, the expression of Wnt acyltransferase porcupine (PORCN), which is essential for Wnt maturation and secretion, was greatly deceased in these human AD brains. Interestingly, the lowest levels of WNT1, PORCN, and RSPO2 expression were found in human AD brains carrying two copies of APOE4 allele, the strongest genetic risk factor of late-onset AD. Importantly, there were positive correlations among the levels of WNT1, PORCN, and RSPO2 expression in human AD brains. Supporting observations in humans, Wnt1, PORCN, and Rspo2 were downregulated and Wnt/β-catenin signaling was diminished in the 5xFAD amyloid model mice. In human APOE-targeted replacement mice, downregulation of WNT1, PORCN, and RSPO2 expression was positively associated with aging and APOE4 genotype. Finally, WNT1 and PORCN expression and Wnt/β-catenin signaling were inhibited in human APOE4 iPSC-derived astrocytes when compared to the isogenic APOE3 iPSC-derived astrocytes. Altogether, our findings suggest that the dysregulations of Wnt1, PORCN, and Rspo2 could be coordinated together to diminish Wnt/β-catenin signaling in aging- and APOE4-dependent manners in the AD brain.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; PORCN; Rspo2; Wnt signaling; Wnt1; apoE4.
© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.