Clathrin-dependent APP endocytosis and Aβ secretion are highly sensitive to the level of plasma membrane cholesterol


  • Cossec Christophe
  • Simon Anne
  • Marquer Catherine
  • Moldrich Randal
  • Leterrier Christophe
  • Rossier Jean
  • Duyckaerts Charles
  • Lenkei Zsolt
  • Potier Marie-Claude


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Cholesterol
  • Endocytosis
  • Clathrin
  • Amyloidβ

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Several lines of evidence support a strong relationship between cholesterol and Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis. Membrane cholesterol is known to modulate amyloid precursor protein (APP) endocytosis and amyloid-β (Aβ) secretion. Here we show in a human cell line model of endocytosis (HEK293 cells) that cholesterol exerts these effects in a dose-dependent and linear manner, over a wide range of concentrations (-40% to + 40% variations of plasma membrane cholesterol induced by methyl-beta-cyclodextrin (MBCD) and MBCD-cholesterol complex respectively). We found that the gradual effect of cholesterol is inhibited by small interference RNA-mediated downregulation of clathrin. Modulation of clathrin-mediated APP endocytosis by cholesterol was further demonstrated using mutants of proteins involved in the formation of early endosomes (dynamin2, Eps15 and Rab5). Importantly we show that membrane proteins other than APP are not affected by cholesterol to the same extent. Indeed clathrin-dependent endocytosis of transferrin and cannabinoid1 receptors as well as internalization of surface proteins labelled with a biotin derivative (sulfo-NHS-SS-biotin) were not sensitive to variations of plasma membrane cholesterol from-40% to 40%. In conclusion clathrin-dependent APP endocytosis appears to be very sensitive to the levels of membrane cholesterol. These results suggest that cholesterol increase in AD could be responsible for the enhanced internalization of clathrin-, dynamin2-, Eps15-and Rab5-dependent endocytosis of APP and the ensuing overproduction of Aβ.

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