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Nesic I.,Catholic University of Leuven | Guix F.X.,Catholic University of Leuven | Vennekens K.,Catholic University of Leuven | Michaki V.,Catholic University of Leuven | And 6 more authors.
Aging Cell | Year: 2012

Several studies suggest that the generation of Aβ is highly dependent on the levels of cholesterol within membranes' detergent-resistant microdomains (DRM). Indeed, the β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) cleaving machinery, namely β- and γ-secretases, has been shown to be present in DRM and its activity depends on membrane cholesterol levels. Counterintuitive to the localization of the cleavage machinery, the substrate, APP, localizes to membranes' detergent-soluble microdomains enriched in phospholipids (PL), indicating that Aβ generation is highly dependent on the capacity of enzyme and substrate to diffuse along the lateral plane of the membrane and therefore on the internal equilibrium of the different lipids of DRM and non-DRM domains. Here, we studied to which extent changes in the content of a main non-DRM lipid might affect the proteolytic processing of APP. As phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) accounts for the majority of PL, we focused on its impact on the regulation of APP proteolysis. In mammalian cells, siRNA-mediated knock-down of PE synthesis resulted in decreased Aβ owing to a dual effect: promoted α-secretase cleavage and decreased γ-secretase processing of APP. In vivo, in Drosophila melanogaster, genetic reduction in PL synthesis results in decreased γ-secretase-dependent cleavage of APP. These results suggest that modulation of the membrane-soluble domains could be a valuable alternative to reduce excessive Aβ generation. © 2011 The Authors. Aging Cell © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland.


Michaki V.,Catholic University of Leuven | Guix F.X.,Catholic University of Leuven | Vennekens K.,Catholic University of Leuven | Munck S.,Catholic University of Leuven | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Biological Chemistry | Year: 2012

Clinical, pharmacological, biochemical, and genetic evidence support the notion that alteration of cholesterol homeostasis strongly predisposes to Alzheimer disease (AD). The ATP-binding cassette transporter-2 (Abca2), which plays a role in intracellular sterol trafficking, has been genetically linked to AD. It is unclear how these two processes are related. Here we demonstrate that down-regulation of Abca2 in mammalian cells leads to decreased amyloid-β (Aβ) generation. In vitro studies revealed altered γ-secretase complex formation in Abca2 knock-out cells due to the altered levels, post-translational modification, and subcellular localization of Nicastrin. Reduced Abca2 levels in mammalian cells in vitro, inDrosophila melanogaster and in mice resulted in altered γ-secretase processing of APP, and thus Aβ generation, without affecting Notch cleavage. © 2012 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.


Martin M.G.,Centro Biologia Molecular Severo Ochoa CSIC UAM | Martin M.G.,Catholic University of Leuven | Ahmed T.,Catholic University of Leuven | Korovaichuk A.,Instituto Cajal | And 9 more authors.
EMBO Molecular Medicine | Year: 2014

Cognitive decline is one of the many characteristics of aging. Reduced long-term potentiation (LTP) and long-term depression (LTD) are thought to be responsible for this decline, although the precise mechanisms underlying LTP and LTD dampening in the old remain unclear. We previously showed that aging is accompanied by the loss of cholesterol from the hippocampus, which leads to PI3K/Akt phosphorylation. Given that Akt de-phosphorylation is required for glutamate receptor internalization and LTD, we hypothesized that the decrease in cholesterol in neuronal membranes may contribute to the deficits in LTD typical of aging. Here, we show that cholesterol loss triggers p-Akt accumulation, which in turn perturbs the normal cellular and molecular responses induced by LTD, such as impaired AMPA receptor internalization and its reduced lateral diffusion. Electrophysiology recordings in brain slices of old mice and in anesthetized elderly rats demonstrate that the reduced hippocampal LTD associated with age can be rescued by cholesterol perfusion. Accordingly, cholesterol replenishment in aging animals improves hippocampal-dependent learning and memory in the water maze test. © 2014 The Authors. Published under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license.


Palomer E.,Centro Biologia Molecular Severo Ochoa CSIC UAM | Carretero J.,Centro Biologia Molecular Severo Ochoa CSIC UAM | Benvegnu S.,Centro Biologia Molecular Severo Ochoa CSIC UAM | Dotti C.G.,Centro Biologia Molecular Severo Ochoa CSIC UAM | And 2 more authors.
Nature Communications | Year: 2016

It has been recently described that in embryonic stem cells, the expression of some important developmentally regulated genes is repressed, but poised for fast activation under the appropriate stimuli. In this work we show that Bdnf promoters are repressed by Polycomb Complex 2 in mature hippocampal neurons, and basal expression is guaranteed by the coexistence with activating histone marks. Neuronal stimulation triggered by N-methyl-D-aspartate application induces the transcription of these promoters by H3K27Me3 demethylation and H3K27Me3 phosphorylation at Serine 28 leading to displacement of EZH2, the catalytic subunit of Polycomb Repressor Complex 2. Our data show that the fast transient expression of Bdnf promoters II and VI after neuronal stimulation is dependent on acetylation of histone H3K27 by CREB-p/CBP. Thus, regulatory mechanisms established during development seem to remain after differentiation controlling genes induced by different stimuli, as would be the case of early memory genes in mature neurons.


Agostini F.,International School for Advanced Studies | Agostini F.,Catholic University of Leuven | Dotti C.G.,Catholic University of Leuven | Perez-Canamas A.,Centro Biologia Molecular Severo Ochoa CSIC UAM | And 6 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2013

The cellular form of the prion protein (PrPC) is a normal constituent of neuronal cell membranes. The protein misfolding causes rare neurodegenerative disorders known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies or prion diseases. These maladies can be sporadic, genetic or infectious. Sporadic prion diseases are the most common form mainly affecting aging people. In this work, we investigate the biochemical environment in which sporadic prion diseases may develop, focusing our attention on the cell membrane of neurons in the aging brain. It is well established that with aging the ratio between the most abundant lipid components of rafts undergoes a major change: while cholesterol decreases, sphingomyelin content rises. Our results indicate that the aging process modifies the compartmentalization of PrPC. In old mice, this change favors PrPC accumulation in detergent-resistant membranes, particularly in hippocampi. To confirm the relationship between lipid content changes and PrPC translocation into detergent-resistant membranes (DRMs), we looked at PrPC compartmentalization in hippocampi from acid sphingomyelinase (ASM) knockout (KO) mice and synaptosomes enriched in sphingomyelin. In the presence of high sphingomyelin content, we observed a significant increase of PrPC in DRMS. This process is not due to higher levels of total protein and it could, in turn, favor the onset of sporadic prion diseases during aging as it increases the PrP intermolecular contacts into lipid rafts. We observed that lowering sphingomyelin in scrapie-infected cells by using fumonisin B1 led to a 50% decrease in protease-resistant PrP formation. This may suggest an involvement of PrP lipid environment in prion formation and consequently it may play a role in the onset or development of sporadic forms of prion diseases. © 2013 Agostini et al.

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