Protein kinase C (PKC)-activated modulation of amyloid precursor protein (APP) metabolism has been investigated in natural models of altered APP expression due to the presence of one, two or three copies of the APP gene. We show that levels of APP present in human skin fibroblasts strongly influence the effect of PKC activation of soluble APP (sAPP) release. Thus fibroblasts derived from a patient with a deletion in chromosome 21 including the APP locus (Δ21) had lower levels of both APP mRNA and cell-associated APP, and showed an exaggerated phorbol-ester-induced sAPP release, when compared with fibroblasts from control individuals. In contrast, fibroblasts from chromosome 21 trisomic Down's syndrome patients failed to show a concentration-dependent response to phorbol ester treatment. These results suggest that the levels of APP expression can affect the degree of response to PKC-mediated modulation of the metabolism of this protein.

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