Molecular medicine (Cambridge, Mass.) vol:5 issue:8 pages:542-54
Presenilins 1 (PS1) and 2 (PS2) are multispanning transmembrane proteins associated with familial Alzheimer disease (FAD). They are developmentally regulated, being expressed at highest levels during neuronal differentiation and are sustained at a lower level throughout life. We investigated the distribution and metabolism of endogenous murine PS1 as well as human wild-type (wtPS1) and the familial AD Met146Leu (M146L) mutant presenilins in dissociated cultures of hippocampal neurons derived from control and transgenic mice. We found that the PS1 endoproteolytic fragments and, to a lesser extent, the full-length protein, were expressed as early as day 3 post-plating. Both species increased until the cells were fully differentiated at day 12. Confocal microscopy revealed that presenilin is present in the Golgi and endoplasmic reticulum and, as in punctate, vesicle-like structures within developing neurites and growth cones. Using a human-specific PS1 antibody, we were able to independently examine the distribution of the transgenic protein which, although similar to the endogenous, showed some unique qualities. These included (i) some heterogeneity in the proteolytic fragments of human PS1; (ii) significantly reduced levels of full-length human PS1, possibly as a result of preferential processing; and (iii) a more discrete intracellular distribution of human PS1. Colocalization with organelle-specific proteins revealed that PS1 was located in a diffuse staining pattern in the MAP2-positive dendrites and in a punctate manner in GAP43-positive axons. PS1 showed considerable overlap with GAP43, particularly at the growth cones. Similar patterns of PS1 distribution were detected in cultures derived from transgenic animals expressing human wild-type or mutant presenilins. The studies demonstrate that mutant presenilins are not grossly different in their processing or distribution within cultured neurons, which may represent more physiological models as compared to transfection systems. Our data also suggest that the molecular pathology associated with PS1 mutations results from subtle alterations in presenilin function, which can be further investigated using these transgenic neuronal cell culture models.