Presenilin-1 (PS1) facilitates gamma-secretase cleavage of the beta-amyloid precursor protein and the intramembraneous cleavage of Notch1. Although Alzheimer's disease-associated mutations in the homologous presenilin (PS2) gene elevate amyloid beta-peptide (Abeta42) production like PS1 mutations, here we demonstrate that a gene ablation of PS2 (unlike that of PS1) in mice does not result in a severe phenotype resembling that of Notch-ablated animals. To investigate the amyloidogenic function of PS2 more directly, we mutagenized a conserved aspartate at position 366 to alanine, because the corresponding residue of PS1 is known to be required for its amyloidogenic function. Cells expressing the PS2 D366A mutation exhibit significant deficits in proteolytic processing of beta-amyloid precursor protein indicating a defect in gamma-secretase activity. The reduced gamma-secretase activity results in the almost complete inhibition of Abeta and p3 production in cells stably expressing PS2 D366A, whereas cells overexpressing the wild-type PS2 cDNA produce robust levels of Abeta and p3. Using highly sensitive in vivo assays, we demonstrate that the PS2 D366A mutation not only blocks gamma-secretase activity but also inactivates PS2 activity in Notch signaling by inhibiting the proteolytic release of the cytoplasmic Notch1 domain. These data suggest that PS2 is functionally involved in Abeta production and Notch signaling by facilitating similar proteolytic cleavages.
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