Binding Sites of γ-Secretase Inhibitors in Rodent Brain: Distribution, Postnatal Development, and Effect of Deafferentation

Xiao Xin Yan, Tong Li, Cynthia M. Rominger, Shimoga R. Prakash, Philip C. Wong, Richard E. Olson, Robert Zaczek, Yu Wen Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


γ-Secretase is a multimeric complex consisted of presenilins (PSs) and three other proteins. PSs appear to be key contributors for the enzymatic center, the potential target of a number of recently developed γ-secretase inhibitors. Using radiolabeled and unlabeled inhibitors as ligands, this study was aimed to determine the in situ distribution of γ-secretase in the brain. Characterization using PS-1 knock-out mouse embryos revealed 50 and 80% reductions of γ-secretase inhibitor binding density in the heterozygous (PS-1 +/-) and homozygous (PS-1 -/-) embryos, respectively, relative to the wild type (PS-1 +/+). The pharmacological profile from competition binding assays suggests that the ligands may target at the N- and C-terminal fragments of PS essential for γ-secretase activity. In the adult rat brain, the binding sites existed mostly in the forebrain, the cerebellum, and discrete brainstem areas and were particularly abundant in areas rich in neuronal terminals, e.g., olfactory glomeruli, CA3- hilus area, cerebellar molecular layer, and pars reticulata of the substantia nigra. In the developing rat brain, diffuse and elevated expression of binding sites occurred at the early postnatal stage relative to the adult. The possible association of binding sites with neuronal terminals in the adult brain was further investigated after olfactory deafferentation. A significant decrease with subsequent recovery of binding sites was noted in the olfactory glomeruli after chemical damage of the olfactory epithelium. The findings in this study support a physiological role of PS or γ-secretase complex in neuronal and synaptic development and plasticity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2942-2952
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 24 2004


  • Alzheimer
  • Autoradiography
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Presenilins
  • β-amyloid precursor protein
  • γ-secretase inhibitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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