Apoptotic cell death and amyloid precursor protein signaling in neuroblastoma SH-SY5Y cells

Valentina Venezia, Claudio Russo, Emanuela Repetto, Mario Nizzari, Elisabetta Violani, Pia Carlo, Bianca Marchetti, Gennaro Schettini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have recently shown that the amyloid precursor protein (APP) and a subset of its C-terminal fragments (CTFs) are tyrosine phosphorylated in human brain and in cultured cells. Tyrosine phosphorylation generates a substrate that is sequentially bound by the adaptor proteins ShcA and Grb2, and this interaction is significantly enhanced in Alzheimer's disease brains. Here we have studied the APP/CTFs phosphorylation and ShcA activation in a human neuroblastoma cell line, SH-SY5Y, under basal and apoptotic conditions. To commit these cells to apoptosis, we used staurosporin, a well-known apoptotic inducer and protein kinase C blocker. Our data suggest the following: (1) in normally proliferating SH-SY5Y cells, full-length APP is complexed with Grb2[Q3], likely through its SH2 domain; (2) upon induction of apoptosis, APP is degraded and ShcA-Grb2 coimmunoprecipitates with CTFs recognized by anti-APP antibodies; and (3) caspase inhibitors partially block the degradation of APP and the coprecipitation of CTFs with ShcA-Grb2 adaptors. In summary, our data suggest that in SH-SY5Y cells, tyrosine-phosphorylated APP is involved in a complex with ShcA-Grb2 adaptors that is disrupted during apoptosis. The abnormal degradation of APP and consequent increased levels of CTFs (as has been observed in Alzheimer's disease and Down's syndrome) generate a complex between tyrosine-phosphorylated CTFs and intracellular adaptors. The signaling through APP and its CTFs may have significant relevance for apoptotic cell death in Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-347
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Adaptor proteins
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid precursor protein
  • Apoptosis
  • Phosphorylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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