Alzheimer's disease: specific increases in a G protein subunit (Gs alpha) mRNA in hippocampal and cortical neurons.
Harrison PJ., Barton AJ., McDonald B., Pearson RC.
The GTP binding protein, Gs, activates adenyl cyclase in direct response to stimulation of several neurotransmitter receptors. In situ hybridization histochemistry (ISHH) with a 35S-labelled oligonucleotide has been used to detect the mRNA encoding the alpha subunit of Gs (Gs alpha) in human hippocampus, temporal and visual cortices and cerebellum, and its level has been compared between Alzheimer's disease (AD) and control brains. A marked regional increase was found in the hippocampus of AD cases. Analysis of levels of Gs alpha mRNA in individual constituent pyramidal cells confirmed this increase (3 to 4-fold in densitometric units) in hippocampal fields CA1, CA3 and CA4, as well as in temporal cortex. Levels of Gs alpha mRNA were also determined relative to total poly(A)+ mRNA in the same cell populations in each case. Gene-specific elevation of Gs alpha mRNA was thereby confirmed in hippocampal fields, and also in temporal cortex. No changes were seen in visual cortex. The increase in Gs alpha mRNA may represent a response by AD neurons in affected areas to receptor alterations, or to an abnormality in receptor-G protein coupling. Alternatively, altered G protein gene expression might be a pathogenic event underlying changes in linked receptor populations.