Alzheimer disease (AD), a progressive neurodegenerative disease, is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly and is among the leading causes of death in adults. AD is characterized by two major pathological hallmarks, amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. For a number of reasons, amyloid plaque accumulation is widely thought to be the probable cause of AD. The amyloid plaque core is largely composed of an approximately 4-kDa peptide referred to as Aβ. Aβ is derived from its precursor, the Alzheimer amyloid protein precursor (APP), by endoproteolytic processing. APP is a type 1 integral membrane protein, with a long extracellular domain, one transmembrane domain, and a short (≈50 amino acid) cytoplasmic tail. Despite intense efforts to decipher the function of APP, its normal physiological role has remained elusive. The carboxy-terminus of APP contains the sequence YENPTY, which is absolutely conserved across APP homologues and across species. The YENPTY sequence is important for regulation of APP processing and trafficking. Given the importance of the cytoplasmic domain in APP physiology, a number of laboratories have hypothesized that proteins that bind to the YENPTY sequence in the cytoplasmic domain of APP might regulate APP processing, trafficking, and/or function. In this article, we will discuss data revealing which proteins bind to the cytoplasmic domain of APP, how these binding-proteins regulate APP metabolism and function, and why such protein-protein interactions provide an exciting new target for therapeutic intervention in AD.
- Alzheimer disease