Amyloid β protein (Aβ) plays a central role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Point mutations within the Aβ sequence associated with familial AD (FAD) are clustered around the central hydrophobic core of Aβ. Several types of mutations within the Aβ sequence have been identified, and the 'Arctic' mutation (E22G) has a purely cognitive phenotype typical of AD. Previous studies have shown that the primary result of the 'Arctic' mutation is increased formation of Aβ protofibrils. However, the molecular mechanism underlying this effect remains unknown. Aβ42 binds to a neuronal nicotinic acetylcholine receptor subunit, neuronal acetylcholine receptor subunit alpha-7 (CHRNA7), with high affinity and, thus, may be involved in the pathogenesis of AD. Therefore, to clarify the molecular mechanism of Arctic mutation-mediated FAD, we focused on CHRNA7 as a target molecule of Arctic Aβ. We performed an in vitro binding assay using purified CHRNA7 and synthetic Arctic Aβ40, and demonstrated that Arctic Aβ40 specifically bound to CHRNA7. The aggregation of Arctic Ab40 was enhanced with the addition of CHRNA7. Furthermore, the function of CHRNA7 was detected by measuring Ca2+ flux and phospho-p44/42 MAPK (ERK1/2) activation. Our results indicated that Arctic Aβ40 aggregation was enhanced by the addition of CHRNA7, which destabilized the function of CHRNA7 via inhibition of Ca2+ responses and activation of ERK1/2. These findings indicate that Arctic Aβ mutation may be involved in the mechanism underlying FAD. This mechanism may involve binding and aggregation, leading to the inhibition of CHRNA7 functions.
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