Brain-derived neurotrophic factor reduces amyloidogenic processing through control of SORLA gene expression

Michael Rohe, Michael Synowitz, Rainer Glass, Steven M. Paul, Anders Nykjaer, Thomas E. Willnow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Sorting protein-related receptor with A-type repeats (SORLA) is a major risk factor in cellular processes leading to Alzheimer's disease (AD). It acts as sorting receptor for the amyloid precursor protein (APP) that regulates intracellular trafficking and processing into amyloidogenic-β peptides (Aβ). Overexpression of SORLA in neurons reduces while inactivation of gene expression (as in knock-out mouse models) accelerates amyloidogenic processing and senile plaque formation. The current study aimed at identifying molecular pathways that control SORLA gene transcription in vivo and that may contribute to low levels of receptor expression in the brain of patients with AD. Using screening approaches in primary neurons, we identified brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) as a major inducer of Sorla that activates receptor gene transcription through the ERK (extracellular regulated kinase) pathway. In line with a physiological role as regulator of Sorla, expression of the receptor is significantly impaired in mouse models with genetic (Bdnf-/-) or disease-related loss of BDNF activity in the brain (Huntington's disease). Intriguingly, exogenous application of BDNF reduced Aβ production in primary neurons and in the brain of wild-type mice in vivo, but not in animals genetically deficient for Sorla. These findings demonstrate that the beneficial effects ascribed to BDNF in APP metabolism act through induction of Sorla that encodes a negative regulator of neuronal APP processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15472-15478
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 9 2009


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