BACE1 and BACE2 enzymatic activities in Alzheimer's disease

Rachel R. Ahmed, Christopher J. Holler, Robin L. Webb, Feng Li, Tina L. Beckett, M. Paul Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


β-Secretase is the rate limiting enzymatic activity in the production of the amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) and is thought to be involved in Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathogenesis. Although BACE1 (β-site APP Cleaving Enzyme 1, EC has received significant attention, the related BACE2 (EC has not. Though BACE2 is also expressed in the brain, its potential role in AD has not been resolved. In this study, we compared the activities of both BACE1 and BACE2, which were isolated from the same samples of frontal cortex from both AD-affected individuals and age-matched controls. BACE1 activity showed a significant positive correlation with the amount of extractable Aβ, and BACE1 protein and activity were significantly increased in AD cases. Unexpectedly, there were substantial total amounts of BACE2 protein and enzymatic activity in the human brain. BACE2 activity did not change significantly in the AD brain, and was not related to Aβ concentration. These data indicate that BACE1 likely accounts for most of the Aβ produced in the human brain, and that BACE2 activity is not a likely contributor. However, as both forms of BACE compete for the same substrate pool, even small changes in BACE2 activity could have consequences for human disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1045-1053
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid-β peptide
  • BACE1
  • BACE2
  • β-amyloid precursor protein
  • β-secretase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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