Amino Acids

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 339–343 | Cite as

Protein expression of BACE1, BACE2 and APP in Down syndrome brains

  • M. S. Cheon
  • M. Dierssen
  • S. H. Kim
  • G. Lubec


Down syndrome (DS) is the most common human chromosomal abnormality caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21. The phenotype of DS is thought to result from overexpression of a gene or genes located on the triplicated chromosome or chromosome region. Several reports have shown that the neuropathology of DS comprises developmental abnormalities and Alzheimer-like lesions such as senile plaques. A key component of senile plaques is amyloid β-peptide which is generated from the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by sequential action of β-secretases (BACE1 and BACE2) and γ-secretase. While BACE1 maps to chromosome 11, APP and BACE2 are located on chromosome 21. To challenge the gene dosage effect and gain insight into the expressional relation between β-secretases and APP in DS brain, we evaluated protein expression levels of BACE1, BACE2 and APP in fetal and adult DS brain compared to controls. In fetal brain, protein expression levels of BACE2 and APP were comparable between DS and controls. BACE1 was increased, but did not reach statistical significance. In adult brain, BACE1 and BACE2 were comparable between DS and controls, but APP was significantly increased. We conclude that APP overexpression seems to be absent during the development of DS brain up to 18–19 weeks of gestational age. However, its overexpression in adult DS brain could lead to disturbance of normal function of APP contributing to neurodegeneration. Comparable expression of BACE1 and BACE2 speaks against the hypothesis that increased β-secretase results in (or even underlies) increased production of amyloidogenic Aβ fragments.

Furthermore, current data indicate that the DS phenotype cannot be fully explained by simple gene dosage effect.

Keywords: Amyloid precursor protein – β-site APP-cleaving enzyme – Down syndrome – Protein expression 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. S. Cheon
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Dierssen
    • 3
  • S. H. Kim
    • 1
    • 4
  • G. Lubec
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of Herbal Resources ResearchKorea Institute of Oriental MedicineKorea
  3. 3.Genes and Disease ProgramGenomic Regulation Center-CRGBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Laboratory of Chemical GenomicsKorea Research Institute of Chemical TechnologyKorea

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