Alzheimer's, numb, APP, notch, TRPC, calcium, cell death, protein trafficking


Increased production of amyloid beta (A-beta) peptide, via altered proteolytic cleavage of amyloid protein precursor (APP), and abnormalities in neuronal calcium homeostasis play central roles in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Notch1, a membrane receptor that controls cell fate decisions during development of the nervous system, has been linked to AD because it is a substrate for the gamma-secretase protein complex in which mutations cause early-onset inherited AD. Numb is an evolutionarily conserved endocytic adapter involved in the internalization of transmembrane receptors. Mammals produce four Numb isoforms that differ in two functional domains, a phosphotyrosine-binding domain (PTB) and a proline-rich region (PRR). Recent studies showed that the PTB domain of Numb interacts with the cytoplasmic tails of APP and Notch but the functional relevance of these interactions with respect to AD pathogenesis is not clear. In the current studies, we proposed to investigate the biological consequences of the interaction of the Numb proteins with APP and Notch in neural cells stably overexpressing each of the four human Numb proteins. In the first part of our studies, we found that expression of the Numb isoforms lacking the insert in the PTB (SPTB-Numb) caused the abnormal accumulation of cellular APP in the early endosomes, and increased the levels of C-terminal APP fragments and A-beta. By contrast, expression of the Numb isoforms with the insert in PTB (LPTB-Numb) leads to the depletion of cellular APP and coincides with significantly lower production of APP derivatives and A-beta. The contrasting effects of the Numb isoforms on APP metabolism were not attributed to differences in the expression of APP nor the activities of the various APP-processing secretases. In the second part of our studies, we found that expression of SPTB-Numb protein enhances neuronal vulnerability to serum deprivation-induced cell death by a mechanism involving the dysregulation of cellular calcium homeostasis. Neural cells expressing SPTB-Numb exhibited enhanced Notch activity, which markedly upregulated the expression of transient receptor potential canonical 6 (TRPC6) channels enhancing calcium entry in response to store depletion. We also found that serum deprivation increased TRPC6 expression, mediating the serum deprivation-induced death in neural cells. Interestingly, expression of LPTB-Numb protein suppressed serum deprivation-induced activation of Notch and the subsequent upregulation of TRPC6 and cell death. Finally, we showed that the Numb proteins differentially impact Notch activation by altering the endocytic trafficking and processing of Notch. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that aberrant expression of the Numb proteins may influence APP metabolism and Notch-mediated cellular responses to injury by altering their endocytic trafficking and processing.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at

Graduation Date



Chan, Sic L.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Burnett College of Biomedical Sciences


Biomolecular Science

Degree Program

Biomedical Sciences








Release Date

May 2009

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)