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Enzyme action creates protein linked to Alzheimer's disease

two parts: amyloid-beta, which is then shipped to the outside of the cell, and another part that remains inside. Amyloid-beta forms the plaques seen in brains afflicted with Alzheimer's.

"Actually, it's quite a simple mechanism," Dr. Yu said. "Hopefully, we can screen for Alzheimer's protein compounds that can block this process and find the exact pathways and how it can be regulated in Alzheimer's disease."

Now that nicastrin's function has been ascertained, it opens a way to block just the splitting of APP, leaving all the enzyme's other functions intact. For instance, it may be possible to generate chemical compounds that specifically prevent nicastrin from latching on to APP. If APP doesn't attach to nicastrin, APP remains intact and harmless. Meanwhile, nicastrin would be free to bind all the other essential proteins that it works on.

"We want to find a particular way to block the recognition of APP but not the others," Dr. Yu said.


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Contact: Aline McKenzie
aline.mckenzie@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
11-Aug-2005


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