Development of disease-modifying therapeutics is urgently needed for treating Alzheimer disease (AD). AD is characterized by toxic β-amyloid (Aβ) peptides produced by β- and γ-secretase-mediated cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein (APP). β-secretase inhibitors reduce Aβ levels, but mechanism-based side effects arise because they also inhibit β-cleavage of non-amyloid substrates like Neuregulin. We report that β-secretase has a higher affinity for Neuregulin than it does for APP. Kinetic studies demonstrate that the affinities and catalytic efficiencies of β-secretase are higher toward non-amyloid substrates than toward APP. We show that non-amyloid substrates are processed by β-secretase in an endocytosis-independent manner. Exploiting this compartmentalization of substrates, we specifically target the endosomal β-secretase by an endosomally targeted β-secretase inhibitor, which blocked cleavage of APP but not non-amyloid substrates in many cell systems, including induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived neurons. β-secretase inhibitors can be designed to specifically inhibit the Alzheimer process, enhancing their potential as AD therapeutics without undesired side effects.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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