Cell and molecular neurobiology of presenilins: A role for the endoplasmic reticulum in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease?

Mark P. Mattson, Qing Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Mutations in genes encoding presenilin-1 (PS-1) and presenilin-2 (PS-2) cause many cases of autosomal dominant inherited forms of early-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). PSs are expressed in neurons throughout the nervous system, with differences in abundance among cell populations. PS-1 and PS-2 each have six to eight transmembrane domains and are localized mainly in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). PSs may interact with cytoskeletal proteins and β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) in ways consistent with roles in membrane trafficking and APP processing. Expression of mutant PSs in cultured cells and transgenic mice results in increased production of an amyloidogenic- cytotoxic form of amyloid β-peptide (Aβ). Neural cells expressing mutant PSs exhibit increased sensitivity to apoptosis induced by trophic factor withdrawal and Aβ. The proapoptotic action of mutant PSs involves perturbed calcium release from ER stores and increased levels of oxidative stress. PS mutations may also suppress neurotransmitter synthesis in cholinergic neurons, suggesting a role in regulation of neuronal phenotype. Homology of PSs with the C. elegans gene sel-12 and phenotypic similarities of PS-1 and Notch knockout mice suggest a developmental role for PSs in somitogenesis. Collectively, the emerging data suggest intriguing roles of PSs in neuronal plasticity and cell death and highlight the importance of the ER as a regulatory site involved in the pathogenesis of neuronal degeneration in AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-513
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 15 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Amyloid β-peptide
  • Amyloid precursor protein
  • Apoptosis
  • Calcium homeostasis
  • Inositol trisphosphate
  • Muscarinic cholinergic
  • Nerve growth factor
  • Reactive oxygen species
  • Vitamin E

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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