Cortical dysplasia resembling human type 2 lissencephaly in mice lacking all three APP family members



The Alzheimer's disease β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) is a member of a larger gene family that includes the amyloid precursor-like proteins, termed APLP1 and APLP2. We previously documented that APLP2−/−APLP1−/− and APLP2−/−APP−/− mice die postnatally, while APLP1−/−APP−/− mice and single mutants were viable. We now report that mice lacking all three APP/APLP family members survive through embryonic development, and die shortly after birth. In contrast to double-mutant animals with perinatal lethality, 81% of triple mutants showed cranial abnormalities. In 68% of triple mutants, we observed cortical dysplasias characterized by focal ectopic neuroblasts that had migrated through the basal lamina and pial membrane, a phenotype that resembles human type II lissencephaly. Moreover, at E18.5 triple mutants showed a partial loss of cortical Cajal Retzius (CR) cells, suggesting that APP/APLPs play a crucial role in the survival of CR cells and neuronal adhesion. Collectively, our data reveal an essential role for APP family members in normal brain development and early postnatal survival.