Author(s): Zhang Y, McLaughlin R, Goodyer C, LeBlanc A
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Abstract Extracellular amyloid beta peptides (Abetas) have long been thought to be a primary cause of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Now, detection of intracellular neuronal Abeta1--42 accumulation before extracellular Abeta deposits questions the relevance of intracellular peptides in AD. In the present study, we directly address whether intracellular Abeta is toxic to human neurons. Microinjections of Abeta1--42 peptide or a cDNA-expressing cytosolic Abeta1--42 rapidly induces cell death of primary human neurons. In contrast, Abeta1--40, Abeta40--1, or Abeta42--1 peptides, and cDNAs expressing cytosolic Abeta1--40 or secreted Abeta1--42 and Abeta1--40, are not toxic. As little as a 1-pM concentration or 1500 molecules/cell of Abeta1--42 peptides is neurotoxic. The nonfibrillized and fibrillized Abeta1--42 peptides are equally toxic. In contrast, Abeta1--42 peptides are not toxic to human primary astrocytes, neuronal, and nonneuronal cell lines. Inhibition of de novo protein synthesis protects against Abeta1--42 toxicity, indicating that programmed cell death is involved. Bcl-2, Bax-neutralizing antibodies, cDNA expression of a p53R273H dominant negative mutant, and caspase inhibitors prevent Abeta1--42-mediated human neuronal cell death. Taken together, our data directly demonstrate that intracellular Abeta1--42 is selectively cytotoxic to human neurons through the p53--Bax cell death pathway.
This article was published in J Cell Biol
and referenced in Journal of Antivirals & Antiretrovirals