Prion protein (PrPC), a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein corrupted in prion diseases, has been shown recently to interact with group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). Moreover, both PrPC and mGluRs were proposed to function as putative receptors for β-amyloid in Alzheimer's disease. PrPC can be processed in neurons via α or β-cleavage to produce PrPC fragments that are neuroprotective or toxic, respectively. We found PrPC α-cleavage to be 2–3 times higher in the cortex of APPswe/PS1dE9 mice, a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. A similar age-dependent increase was observed for PrPC β-cleavage. Moreover, we observed considerable age-dependent increase in cortical expression of mGluR1, but not mGluR5. Exposure of cortical neuronal cultures to β-amyloid oligomers upregulated mGluR1 and PrPC α-cleavage, while activation of group I mGluRs increased PrPC shedding from the membrane, likely due to increased levels of a disintegrin and metalloprotease10, a key disintegrin for PrPC shedding. Interestingly, a similar increase in a disintegrin and metalloprotease10 was detected in the cortex of 9-month-old APPswe/PS1dE9 animals. Our experiments reveal novel and complex processing of PrPC in connection with mGluR overexpression that seems to be triggered by β-amyloid peptides.
Prion protein (PrPC) and metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR) are implicated in Alzheimer's disease (AD). We found age-dependent increase in PrPC processing, ADAM10 and mGluR1 levels in AD mouse model. These changes could be reproduced in cultured cortical neurons treated with Aβ peptide. Our findings suggest that increased levels of Aβ can trigger compensatory responses that may affect neuronal toxicity.