Antagonistic Effects of BACE1 and APH1B-γ-Secretase Control Axonal Guidance by Regulating Growth Cone Collapse

Soraia Barão, Annette Gärtner, Eduardo Leyva-Díaz, Galina Demyanenko, Sebastian Munck, Tine Vanhoutvin, Lujia Zhou, Melitta Schachner, Guillermina López-Bendito, Patricia F. Maness, Bart De Strooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


BACE1 is the major drug target for Alzheimer's disease, but we know surprisingly little about its normal function in the CNS. Here, we show that this protease is critically involved in semaphorin 3A (Sema3A)-mediated axonal guidance processes in thalamic and hippocampal neurons. An active membrane-bound proteolytic CHL1 fragment is generated by BACE1 upon Sema3A binding. This fragment relays the Sema3A signal via ezrin-radixin-moesin (ERM) proteins to the neuronal cytoskeleton. APH1B-γ-secretase-mediated degradation of this fragment stops the Sema3A-induced collapse and sensitizes the growth cone for the next axonal guidance cue. Thus, we reveal a cycle of proteolytic activity underlying growth cone collapse and restoration used by axons to find their correct trajectory in the brain. Our data also suggest that BACE1 and γ-secretase inhibition have physiologically opposite effects in this process, supporting the idea that combination therapy might attenuate some of the side effects associated with these drugs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1367-1376
Number of pages10
JournalCell Reports
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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