Chemical Cross-linking Provides a Model of the y-Secretase Complex Subunit Architecture and Evidence for Close Proximity of the C-terminal Fragment of Presenilin with APH-1
y-Secretase is an intramembrane cleaving aspartyl protease complex intimately implicated in Alzheimer disease pathogenesis. The protease is composed of the catalytic subunit presenilin (PS1 or PS2), the substrate receptor nicastrin (NCT), and two additional subunits, APH-1 (APH-1a, as long and short splice forms (APH-1aL, APH-1aS), or APH-1b) and PEN-2. Apart from the Alzheimer disease-associated b-amyloid precursor protein, y-secretase has been shown to cleave a large number of other type I membrane proteins. Despite the progress in elucidating y-secretase function, basic questions concerning the precise organization of its subunits, their molecular interactions, and their exact stoichiometry in the complex are largely unresolved. Here we isolated endogenous human y-secretase from human embryonic kidney 293 cells and investigated the subunit architecture of the y-secretase complex formed by PS1, NCT, APH-1aL, and PEN-2 by chemical cross-linking. Using this approach, we provide evidence for the close neighborhood of the PS1 N- and C-terminal fragments (NTF and CTF, respectively), the PS1 NTF and PEN-2, the PS1 CTF and APH-1aL, and NCT and APH-1aL. We thus identify a previously unrecognized PS1 CTF/APH-1aL interaction, verify subunit interactions deduced previously from indirect approaches, and provide a model of the y-secretase complex subunit architecture. finally, we further show that, like the PS1 CTF, the PS2 CTF also interacts with APH-1aL, and we provide evidence that these interactions also occur with the other APH-1 variants, suggesting similar subunit architectures of all y-secretase complexes.