Proteolytic processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) generates amyloid β (Aβ) peptide, which is thought to be causal for the pathology and subsequent cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease. Cleavage by β-secretase at the amino terminus of the Aβ peptide sequence, between residues 671 and 672 of APP, leads to the generation and extracellular release of β-cleaved soluble APP1, and a corresponding cell-associated carboxy-terminal fragment. Cleavage of the C-terminal fragment by γ-secretase(s) leads to the formation of Aβ. The pathogenic mutation K670M671 → N670L671 at the β-secretase cleavage site in APP2, which was discovered in a Swedish family with familial Alzheimer's disease, leads to increased β-secretase cleavage of the mutant substrate3. Here we describe a membrane-bound enzyme activity that cleaves full-length APP at the β-secretase cleavage site, and find it to be the predominant β-cleavage activity in human brain. We have purified this enzyme activity to homogeneity from human brain using a new substrate analogue inhibitor of the enzyme activity, and show that the purified enzyme has all the properties predicted for β-secretase. Cloning and expression of the enzyme reveals that human brain β-secretase is a new membrane-bound aspartic proteinase.
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Sinha, S., Anderson, J., Barbour, R. et al. Purification and cloning of amyloid precursor protein β-secretase from human brain. Nature 402, 537–540 (1999) doi:10.1038/990114
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