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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Selective neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease Wang, Juelu

Abstract

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are featured by cholinergic and dopaminergic neuron loss, respectively. As a unique pathological hallmark of AD, neuritic plaques contain aggregated amyloid β protein (Aβ), generated from amyloid β precursor protein (APP). APP mutations cause familial AD; mutations in the alpha-synuclein (SNCA) and leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) genes are associated with PD. Recent studies suggest that the level of LRRK2 affects its toxicity in neurons. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms underlying LRRK2 expression would help to examine its pathogenic effects on PD. However, the features of the LRRK2 promoter remain elusive. In the first project, we cloned and characterized the LRRK2 promoter. There were two functional cis-acting specificity protein 1(Sp1)-responsive elements in its promoter. Our study demonstrates that LRRK2 transcription and translation were facilitated by Sp1 overexpression and blocked by an Sp1 inhibitor in vitro. The Lewy bodies primarily consist of α-synuclein protein, encoded by SNCA, and SNCAA₅₃T mutation promotes α-synuclein aggregation. The Swedish APP mutation (APPSWE) promotes Aβ generation and AD pathogenesis. However, the mechanisms underlying selective neurodegeneration in AD and PD are still unknown. In the second project, we stably overexpressed wildtype and mutated APP and SNCA genes in cholinergic SN56 and dopaminergic MN9D cells. APPSWE and SNCAA₅₃T mutations enhanced Aβ generation and α-synuclein inclusion formation in SN56 and MN9D cells, respectively. Aβ₄₂ and mutant α-synuclein oligomers caused severe cell death in SN56-APPSWE and MN9D-SNCAA53T cells, respectively. Furthermore, syndecan 3 (SDC3) and fibroblast growth factor receptor like 1 (FGFRL1) genes were identified as two of the differentially expressed genes in APP- and SNCA- related stable cells by microarrays. SDC3 was increased in the cholinergic nucleus of APPSWE knock-in mouse brains, whereas FGFRL1 was elevated in dopaminergic neurons in SNCAA₅₃T transgenic mice. Finally, knockdown of SDC3 and FGFRL1 attenuated oxidative stress-induced cell death in SN56-APPSWE and MN9D-SNCAA₅₃T cells. Overall, these demonstrate that SDC3 and FGFRL1 mediated the specific effects of APPSWE and SNCAA₅₃T on cholinergic and dopaminergic neurodegeneration in AD and PD, respectively. Our study suggests that SDC3 and FGFRL1 could be potential targets to alleviate the selective neurodegeneration in AD and PD.

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