A major therapeutic target in the search for a cure to the devastating Alzheimer's disease is γ-secretase. This activity resides in a multiprotein enzyme complex responsible for the generation of Aβ42 peptides, precipitates of which are thought to cause the disease. γ-Secretase is also a critical component of the Notch signal transduction pathway; Notch signals regulate development and differentiation of adult self-renewing cells. This has led to the hypothesis that therapeutic inhibition of γ-secretase may interfere with Notch-related processes in adults, most alarmingly in hematopoiesis. Here, we show that application of γ-secretase inhibitors to fetal thymus organ cultures interferes with T cell development in a manner consistent with loss or reduction of Notch1 function. Progression from an immature CD4-/CD8- state to an intermediate CD4+/CD8+ double-positive state was repressed. Furthermore, treatment beginning later at the double-positive stage specifically inhibited CD8+ single-positive maturation but did not affect CD4+ single-positive cells. These results demonstrate that pharmacological γ-secretase inhibition recapitulates Notch1 loss in a vertebrate tissue and present a system in which rapid evaluation of γ-secrerase-targeted pharmaceuticals for their ability to inhibit Notch activity can be performed in a relevant context.
|Number of pages||5|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Jun 19 2001|