The genetic lesion underlying familial British dementia (FBD), an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder, is a T-A transversion at the termination codon of the BRI gene. The mutant gene encodes BRI-L, the precursor of ABri peptides that accumulate in amyloid deposits in FBD brain. We now report that both BRI-L and its wild-type counterpart, BRI, were constitutively processed by the proprotein convertase, furin, resulting in the secretion of carboxyl-terminal peptides that encompass all or part of ABri. Elevated levels of peptides were generated from the mutant BRI precursor. Electron microscopic studies revealed that synthetic ABri peptides assembled into irregular, short fibrils. Collectively, our results support the view that enhanced furin-mediated processing of mutant BRI generates fibrillogenic peptides that initiate the pathogenesis of FBD.
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