Altered levels of variant cholinesterase transcripts contribute to the imbalanced cholinergic signaling in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease
Bennett, Estelle R.
Bennett, David A.
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CitationGok M, Madrer N, Zorbaz T, Bennett ER, Greenberg D, Bennett DA and Soreq H (2022) Altered levels of variant cholinesterase transcripts contribute to the imbalanced cholinergic signaling in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Front. Mol. Neurosci. 15:941467. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2022.941467
Acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase (AChE and BChE) are involved in modulating cholinergic signaling, but their roles in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases (AD and PD) remain unclear. We identified a higher frequency of the functionally impaired BCHE-K variant (rs1803274) in AD and PD compared to controls and lower than in the GTEx dataset of healthy individuals (n = 651); in comparison, the prevalence of the 5'-UTR (rs1126680) and intron 2 (rs55781031) single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of BCHE and ACHE's 3'-UTR (rs17228616) which disrupt AChE mRNA targeting by miR-608 remained unchanged. qPCR validations confirmed lower levels of the dominant splice variant encoding the "synaptic" membrane-bound ACHE-S in human post-mortem superior temporal gyrus samples from AD and in substantia nigra (but not amygdala) samples from PD patients (n = 79, n = 67) compared to controls, potentially reflecting region-specific loss of cholinergic neurons. In contradistinction, the non-dominant "readthrough" AChE-R mRNA variant encoding for soluble AChE was elevated (p < 0.05) in the AD superior temporal gyrus and the PD amygdala, but not in the neuron-deprived substantia nigra. Elevated levels of BChE (p < 0.001) were seen in AD superior temporal gyrus. Finally, all three ACHE splice variants, AChE-S, AChE-R, and N-extended AChE, were elevated in cholinergic-differentiated human neuroblastoma cells, with exposure to the oxidative stress agent paraquat strongly downregulating AChE-S and BChE, inverse to their upregulation under exposure to the antioxidant simvastatin. The multi-leveled changes in cholinesterase balance highlight the role of post-transcriptional regulation in neurodegeneration.