Shepherd CE1, Bowes S, Parkinson D, Cambray-Deakin M, Pearson RC.
The beta-amyloid protein deposited in senile plaques and cerebral blood vessels in the Alzheimer’s disease brain is derived from the larger transmembrane spanning amyloid precursor protein. The present study investigates the effects of heat shock on the expression and processing of amyloid precursor protein in a normal human fetal astrocytic cell line CC2565 using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, in situ hybridization histochemistry and western blot analysis. Heat shock led to an increase in the messenger RNA encoding Kunitz protease inhibitor isoforms of amyloid precursor protein, which peaked at 4h post-heat shock. This increase was confined to the messenger RNA encoding amyloid precursor protein-751, with a decrease in amyloid precursor protein-770 and no change in amyloid precursor protein-695. This shift in splicing was accompanied by a significant decrease in secreted amyloid precursor protein and an increase in beta-secretase processing within the cell. These findings demonstrate that astrocytes in vitro demonstrate a striking response to heat shock. This is unlikely to be due to a direct action on the promoter region of the gene, since the response is specific for one splice variant; amyloid precursor protein-751 messenger RNA. This increase in expression is further accompanied by a decrease in secretion of amyloid precursor protein, implying a shift in processing towards an intracellular route, possibly via the actions of the beta-secretase enzyme, which is known to be potentially amyloidogenic. Such a mechanism may contribute to amyloidosis in the intact brain in response to cellular stress, such as head injury.