Farnesyltransferase inhibitor LNK-754 attenuates axonal dystrophy and reduces amyloid pathology in mice

Leah K. Cuddy*, Alia O. Alia, Miranda A. Salvo, Sidhanth Chandra, Tom N. Grammatopoulos, Craig J. Justman, Peter T. Lansbury, Joseph R. Mazzulli, Robert Vassar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Amyloid plaque deposition and axonal degeneration are early events in AD pathogenesis. Aβ disrupts microtubules in presynaptic dystrophic neurites, resulting in the accumulation of impaired endolysosomal and autophagic organelles transporting β-site amyloid precursor protein cleaving enzyme (BACE1). Consequently, dystrophic neurites generate Aβ42 and significantly contribute to plaque deposition. Farnesyltransferase inhibitors (FTIs) have recently been investigated for repositioning toward the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders and block the action of farnesyltransferase (FTase) to catalyze farnesylation, a post-translational modification that regulates proteins involved in lysosome function and microtubule stability. In postmortem AD brains, FTase and its downstream signaling are upregulated. However, the impact of FTIs on amyloid pathology and dystrophic neurites is unknown. Methods: We tested the effects of the FTIs LNK-754 and lonafarnib in the 5XFAD mouse model of amyloid pathology. Results: In 2-month-old 5XFAD mice treated chronically for 3 months, LNK-754 reduced amyloid plaque burden, tau hyperphosphorylation, and attenuated the accumulation of BACE1 and LAMP1 in dystrophic neurites. In 5-month-old 5XFAD mice treated acutely for 3 weeks, LNK-754 reduced dystrophic neurite size and LysoTracker-Green accumulation in the absence of effects on Aβ deposits. Acute treatment with LNK-754 improved memory and learning deficits in hAPP/PS1 amyloid mice. In contrast to LNK-754, lonafarnib treatment was less effective at reducing plaques, tau hyperphosphorylation and dystrophic neurites, which could have resulted from reduced potency against FTase compared to LNK-754. We investigated the effects of FTIs on axonal trafficking of endolysosomal organelles and found that lonafarnib and LNK-754 enhanced retrograde axonal transport in primary neurons, indicating FTIs could support the maturation of axonal late endosomes into lysosomes. Furthermore, FTI treatment increased levels of LAMP1 in mouse primary neurons and in the brains of 5XFAD mice, demonstrating that FTIs stimulated the biogenesis of endolysosomal organelles. Conclusions: We show new data to suggest that LNK-754 promoted the axonal trafficking and function of endolysosomal compartments, which we hypothesize decreased axonal dystrophy, reduced BACE1 accumulation and inhibited amyloid deposition in 5XFAD mice. Our results agree with previous work identifying FTase as a therapeutic target for treating proteinopathies and could have important therapeutic implications in treating AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number54
JournalMolecular neurodegeneration
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dystrophic neurites
  • Farnesyltransferase inhibitors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology


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