Deficiency of Aph1B/C-γ-secretase disturbs Nrg1 cleavage and sensorimotor gating that can be reversed with antipsychotic treatment
Regulated intramembrane proteolysis by γ-secretase cleaves proteins in their transmembrane domain and is involved in important signaling pathways. At least four different γ-secretase complexes have been identified, but little is known about their biological role and specificity. Previous work has demonstrated the involvement of the Aph1A-γ-secretase complex in Notch signaling, but no specific function could be assigned to Aph1B/C-γ-secretase. We demonstrate here that the Aph1B/C-γ-secretase complex is expressed in brain areas relevant to schizophrenia pathogenesis and that Aph1B/C deficiency causes pharmacological and behavioral abnormalities that can be reversed by antipsychotic drugs. At the molecular level we find accumulation of Nrg1 fragments in the brain of Aph1BC-/- mice. Our observations gain clinical relevance by the demonstration that a Val-to-Leu mutation in the Nrg1 transmembrane domain, associated with increased risk for schizophrenia, affects γ-secretase cleavage of Nrg1. This finding suggests that dysregulation of intramembrane proteolysis of Nrg1 could increase risk for schizophrenia and related disorders.