Gamma secretase-activating protein is a substrate for caspase-3: Implications for Alzheimer's disease

Jin Chu, Jian Guo Li, Yash B. Joshi, Phillip F. Giannopoulos, Nicholas E. Hoffman, Muniswamy Madesh, Domenico Praticò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: A major feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the accumulation of amyloid-beta (Aβ), whose formation is regulated by the gamma-secretase complex and its activating protein (also known as GSAP). Because GSAP interacts with gamma-secretase without affecting the cleavage of Notch, it is an ideal target for a viable anti-Aβ therapy. However, despite much interest in this protein, the mechanisms involved in its neurobiology are unknown. METHODS: Postmortem brain tissue samples from AD patients, transgenic mouse models of AD, and neuronal cells were used to investigate the molecular mechanism involved in GSAP formation and subsequent amyloidogenesis. RESULTS: We identified a caspase-3 processing domain in the GSAP sequence and provide experimental evidence that this caspase is essential for GSAP activation and biogenesis of Aβ peptides. Furthermore, we demonstrated that caspase-3-dependent GSAP formation occurs in brains of individuals with AD and two different mouse models of AD and that the process is biologically relevant because its pharmacological blockade reduces Aβ pathology in vivo. CONCLUSIONS: Our data, by identifying caspase-3 as the endogenous modulator of GSAP and Aβ production, establish caspase-3 as a novel, attractive and viable Aβ-lowering therapeutic target for AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)720-728
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid beta
  • Caspase-3
  • Gamma secretase
  • Gamma secretase-activating protein
  • Transgenic mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry


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