• Amyloid, APP, and Electrical Activity of the Brain.

      Hefter, Dimitri; Ludewig, Susann; Draguhn, Andreas; Korte, Martin; HZI,Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH, Inhoffenstr. 7,38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (Sage Publikations, 2019-11-29)
      The Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) is infamous for its proposed pivotal role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Much research on APP focusses on potential contributions to neurodegeneration, mostly based on mouse models with altered expression or mutated forms of APP. However, cumulative evidence from recent years indicates the indispensability of APP and its metabolites for normal brain physiology. APP contributes to the regulation of synaptic transmission, plasticity, and calcium homeostasis. It plays an important role during development and it exerts neuroprotective effects. Of particular importance is the soluble secreted fragment APPsα which mediates many of its physiological actions, often counteracting the effects of the small APP-derived peptide Aβ. Understanding the contribution of APP for normal functions of the nervous system is of high importance, both from a basic science perspective and also as a basis for generating new pathophysiological concepts and therapeutic approaches in AD. In this article, we review the physiological functions of APP and its metabolites, focusing on synaptic transmission, plasticity, calcium signaling, and neuronal network activity.
    • APLP1 Is a Synaptic Cell Adhesion Molecule, Supporting Maintenance of Dendritic Spines and Basal Synaptic Transmission.

      Schilling, Sandra; Mehr, Annika; Ludewig, Susann; Stephan, Jonathan; Zimmermann, Marius; August, Alexander; Strecker, Paul; Korte, Martin; Koo, Edward H; Müller, Ulrike C; et al. (2017-05-24)
      The amyloid precursor protein (APP), a key player in Alzheimer's disease, belongs to the family of synaptic adhesion molecules (SAMs) due to its impact on synapse formation and synaptic plasticity. These functions are mediated by both the secreted APP ectodomain that acts as a neurotrophic factor and full-length APP forming trans-cellular dimers. Two homologs of APP exist in mammals: the APP like proteins APLP1 and APLP2, exhibiting functions that partly overlap with those of APP. Here we tested whether APLP1 and APLP2 also show features of SAMs. We found that all three family members were upregulated during postnatal development coinciding with synaptogenesis. We observed presynaptic and postsynaptic localization of all APP family members and could show that heterologous expression of APLP1 or APLP2 in non-neuronal cells induces presynaptic differentiation in contacting axons of cocultured neurons, similar to APP and other SAMs. Moreover, APP/APLPs all bind to synaptic-signaling molecules, such as MINT/X11. Furthermore, we report that aged APLP1 knock-out mice show impaired basal transmission and a reduced mEPSC frequency, likely resulting from reduced spine density. This demonstrates an essential nonredundant function of APLP1 at the synapse. Compared to APP, APLP1 exhibits increased trans-cellular binding and elevated cell-surface levels due to reduced endocytosis. In conclusion, our results establish that APLPs show typical features of SAMs and indicate that increased surface expression, as observed for APLP1, is essential for proper synapse formation in vitro and synapse maintenance in vivoSIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT According to the amyloid-cascade hypothesis, Alzheimer's disease is caused by the accumulation of Aβ peptides derived from sequential cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by β-site APP cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1) and γ-secretase. Here we show that all mammalian APP family members (APP, APLP1, and APLP2) exhibit synaptogenic activity, involving trans-synaptic dimerization, similar to other synaptic cell adhesion molecules, such as Neuroligin/Neurexin. Importantly, our study revealed that the loss of APLP1, which is one of the major substrates of BACE1, causes reduced spine density in aged mice. Because some therapeutic interventions target APP processing (e.g., BACE inhibitors), those strategies may alter APP/APLP physiological function. This should be taken into account for the development of pharmaceutical treatments of Alzheimer's disease.
    • Neural stem cell lineage-specific cannabinoid type-1 receptor regulates neurogenesis and plasticity in the adult mouse hippocampus.

      Zimmermann, Tina; Maroso, Mattia; Beer, Annika; Baddenhausen, Sarah; Ludewig, Susann; Fan, Wenqiang; Vennin, Constance; Loch, Sebastian; Berninger, Benedikt; Hofmann, Clementine; et al. (Oxford University Publishing, 2018-10-11)
      Neural stem cells (NSCs) in the adult mouse hippocampus occur in a specific neurogenic niche, where a multitude of extracellular signaling molecules converges to regulate NSC proliferation as well as fate and functional integration. However, the underlying mechanisms how NSCs react to extrinsic signals and convert them to intracellular responses still remains elusive. NSCs contain a functional endocannabinoid system, including the cannabinoid type-1 receptor (CB1). To decipher whether CB1 regulates adult neurogenesis directly or indirectly in vivo, we performed NSC-specific conditional inactivation of CB1 by using triple-transgenic mice. Here, we show that lack of CB1 in NSCs is sufficient to decrease proliferation of the stem cell pool, which consequently leads to a reduction in the number of newborn neurons. Furthermore, neuronal differentiation was compromised at the level of dendritic maturation pointing towards a postsynaptic role of CB1 in vivo. Deteriorated neurogenesis in NSC-specific CB1 knock-outs additionally resulted in reduced long-term potentiation in the hippocampal formation. The observed cellular and physiological alterations led to decreased short-term spatial memory and increased depression-like behavior. These results demonstrate that CB1 expressed in NSCs and their progeny controls neurogenesis in adult mice to regulate the NSC stem cell pool, dendritic morphology, activity-dependent plasticity, and behavior.
    • Novel Insights into the Physiological Function of the APP (Gene) Family and Its Proteolytic Fragments in Synaptic Plasticity.

      Ludewig, Susann; Korte, Martin; Hemholtz Centre for infection research, Inhoffenstr. 7, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany. (2016)
      The amyloid precursor protein (APP) is well known to be involved in the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease (AD) via its cleavage product amyloid ß (Aß). However, the physiological role of APP, its various proteolytic products and the amyloid precursor-like proteins 1 and 2 (APLP1/2) are still not fully clarified. Interestingly, it has been shown that learning and memory processes represented by functional and structural changes at synapses are altered in different APP and APLP1/2 mouse mutants. In addition, APP and its fragments are implicated in regulating synaptic strength further reinforcing their modulatory role at the synapse. While APLP2 and APP are functionally redundant, the exclusively CNS expressed APLP1, might have individual roles within the synaptic network. The proteolytic product of non-amyloidogenic APP processing, APPsα, emerged as a neurotrophic peptide that facilitates long-term potentiation (LTP) and restores impairments occurring with age. Interestingly, the newly discovered η-secretase cleavage product, An-α acts in the opposite direction, namely decreasing LTP. In this review we summarize recent findings with emphasis on the physiological role of the APP gene family and its proteolytic products on synaptic function and plasticity, especially during processes of hippocampal LTP. Therefore, we focus on literature that provide electrophysiological data by using different mutant mouse strains either lacking full-length or parts of the APP proteins or that utilized secretase inhibitors as well as secreted APP fragments.