The amyloid precursor protein (APP) of Alzheimer’s disease can reduce copper (II) to copper (I) in a cell-free system potentially leading to increased oxidative stress in neurons. We used neuronal cultures derived from APP knock-out (APP(-/-)) and wild-type (WT) mice to examine the role of APP in copper neurotoxicity.
WT cortical, cerebellar, and hippocampal neurons were significantly more susceptible than their respective APP(-/-) neurons to toxicity induced by physiological concentrations of copper but not by zinc or iron. There was no difference in copper toxicity between APLP2(-/-) and WT neurons, demonstrating specificity for APP-associated copper toxicity. Copper uptake was the same in WT and APP(-/-) neurons, suggesting APP may interact with copper to induce a localized increase in oxidative stress through copper (I) production.
This was supported by significantly higher levels of copper-induced lipid peroxidation in WT neurons. Treatment of neuronal cultures with a peptide corresponding to the human APP copper-binding domain (APP142-166) potentiated copper but not iron or zinc toxicity. Incubation of APP142-166 with low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and copper resulted in significantly increased lipid peroxidation compared to copper and LDL alone. Substitution of the copper coordinating histidine residues with asparagines (APP142-166(H147N, H149N, H151N)) abrogated the toxic effects. A peptide corresponding to the zinc-binding domain (APP181-208) failed to induce copper or zinc toxicity in neuronal cultures.
These data support a role for the APP copper-binding domain in APP-mediated copper (I) generation and toxicity in primary neurons, a process that has important implications for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Source: J Neurosci 1999 Nov 1;19(21):9170-9
PMID: 10531420, UI: 20002774
(Department of Pathology, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, 3052 Victoria, Australia.)