Generation of an apoptotic intracellular peptide by gamma-secretase cleavage of Alzheimer's amyloid beta protein precursor.
The amyloid beta protein precursor (AbetaPP) is sequentially processed by beta- and gamma-secretases to generate the Abeta peptide. The biochemical path leading to Abeta formation has been extensively studied since extracellular aggregates of amyloidogenic forms of Abeta peptide (Abeta42) are considered the culprit of Alzheimer's disease. Aside from its pathological relevance, the biological role of AbetaPP proteolysis is unknown. Although never previously described, cleavage of AbetaPP by gamma-secretase should release, together with Abeta, a COOH-terminal AbetaPP Intracellular Domain, herein termed AID. We have now identified AID-like peptides in brain tissue of normal control and patients with sporadic Alzheimer's disease and demonstrate that AID acts as a positive regulator of apoptosis. Thus, overproduction of AID may add to the toxic effect of Abeta42 aggregates and further accelerate neurodegeneration.