J. Neurochem. (2012) 120, 869–880.
β-Site APP-cleaving enzyme (BACE1) cleaves the amyloid precursor protein (APP) at the β-secretase site to initiate the production of Aβ peptides. These accumulate to form toxic oligomers and the amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). An increase of BACE1 levels in the brain of AD patients has been mostly attributed to alterations of its intracellular trafficking. Golgi-associated adaptor proteins, GGA sort BACE1 for export to the endosomal compartment, which is the major cellular site of BACE1 activity. BACE1 undergoes recycling between endosome, trans-Golgi network (TGN), and the plasma membrane, from where it is endocytosed and either further recycled or retrieved to the endosome. Phosphorylation of Ser498 facilitates BACE1 recognition by GGA1 for retrieval to the endosome. Ubiquitination of BACE1 C-terminal Lys501 signals GGA3 for exporting BACE1 to the lysosome for degradation. In addition, the retromer mediates the retrograde transport of BACE1 from endosome to TGN. Decreased levels of GGA proteins and increased levels of retromer-associated sortilin have been associated with AD. Both would promote the co-localization of BACE1 and the amyloid precursor protein in the TGN and endosomes. Decreased levels of GGA3 also impair BACE1 degradation. Further understanding of BACE1 trafficking and its regulation may offer new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.