Reduced retromer function results in the accumulation of amyloid-beta oligomers

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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by a progressive loss of multiple cognitive functions. Accumulation of amyloid beta oligomers (oAβ) play a major role in the neurotoxicity associated with the disease process. One of the early affected brain regions is the hippocampus, wherein a reduction of the vacuolar protein sorting-associated protein 35 (VPS35), the core protein comprising the retromer complex involved in cellular cargo sorting, has been identified. To investigate the role of the retromer function on the accumulation and clearance of oAβ we reduced retromer function by selectively inhibiting VPS35 gene expression using siRNA in differentiated neuronal SH-SY5Y cells. As cell-to-cell transfer of oAβ to new brain regions is believed to be important for disease progression we investigated the effect of VPS35 reduction both in cells with direct uptake of oAβ and in cells receiving oAβ from donor cells. We demonstrate that reduced retromer function increases oAβ accumulation in both cell systems, both the number of cells containing intracellular oAβ and the amount within them. This effect was shown at different time points and regardless if the oAβ originated from the extracellular milieu or via a direct neuronal cell-to-cell transfer. Interestingly, not only did reduced VPS35 cause oAβ accumulation, but oAβ treatment alone also lead to a reduction of VPS35 protein content. The accumulated oAβ seems to co-localize with VPS35 and early endosome markers. Together, these findings provide evidence that reduced retromer function decreases the ability for neurons to transport and clear neurotoxic oAβ received through different routes resulting in the accumulation of oAβ. Thus, enhancing retromer function may be a potential therapeutic strategy to slow down the pathophysiology associated with the progression of AD.




Ansell-Schultz, A., Reyes, J. F., Samuelsson, M., & Hallbeck, M. (2018). Reduced retromer function results in the accumulation of amyloid-beta oligomers. Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, 93, 18–26.

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