Manipulations of amyloid precursor protein cleavage disrupt the circadian clock in aging Drosophila

Matthew R. Blake, Scott D. Holbrook, Joanna Kotwica-Rolinska, Eileen S. Chow, Doris Kretzschmar, Jadwiga M. Giebultowicz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by severe cognitive deterioration. While causes of AD pathology are debated, a large body of evidence suggests that increased cleavage of Amyloid Precursor Protein (APP) producing the neurotoxic Amyloid-β (Aβ) peptide plays a fundamental role in AD pathogenesis. One of the detrimental behavioral symptoms commonly associated with AD is the fragmentation of sleep-activity cycles with increased nighttime activity and daytime naps in humans. Sleep-activity cycles, as well as physiological and cellular rhythms, which may be important for neuronal homeostasis, are generated by a molecular system known as the circadian clock. Links between AD and the circadian system are increasingly evident but not well understood. Here we examined whether genetic manipulations of APP-like (APPL) protein cleavage in Drosophila melanogaster affect rest-activity rhythms and core circadian clock function in this model organism. We show that the increased β-cleavage of endogenous APPL by the β-secretase (dBACE) severely disrupts circadian behavior and leads to reduced expression of clock protein PER in central clock neurons of aging flies. Our data suggest that behavioral rhythm disruption is not a product of APPL-derived Aβ production but rather may be caused by a mechanism common to both α and β-cleavage pathways. Specifically, we show that increased production of the endogenous Drosophila Amyloid Intracellular Domain (dAICD) caused disruption of circadian rest-activity rhythms, while flies overexpressing endogenous APPL maintained stronger circadian rhythms during aging. In summary, our study offers a novel entry point toward understanding the mechanism of circadian rhythm disruption in Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-126
Number of pages10
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid intracellular domain
  • Amyloid precursor protein
  • BACE
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Drosophila
  • Period gene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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