Deposition of amyloid-β protein (Aβ) to form neuritic plaques is the characteristic neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Aβ is generated from amyloid precursor protein (APP) by β- and γ-secretase cleavages. BACE1 is the β-secretase and its inhibition induces severe side effects, whereas its homolog BACE2 normally suppresses Aβ by cleaving APP/Aβ at the θ-site (Phe20) within the Aβ domain. Here, we report that BACE2 also processes APP at the β site, and the juxtamembrane helix (JH) of APP inhibits its β-secretase activity, enabling BACE2 to cleave nascent APP and aggravate AD symptoms. JH-disrupting mutations and clusterin binding to JH triggered BACE2-mediated β-cleavage. Both BACE2 and clusterin were elevated in aged mouse brains, and enhanced β-cleavage during aging. Therefore, BACE2 contributes to AD pathogenesis as a conditional β-secretase and could be a preventive and therapeutic target for AD without the side effects of BACE1 inhibition.
Zhe Wang, Qin Xu, Fang Cai, Xi Liu, Yili Wu, Weihong Song
F615P, Flemish, and Arctic mutations abolished BACE2 cleavage of nascent APP.