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  • Mannistö, Pekka T.; Garcia-Horsman, J. Arturo (2017)
    In the aging brain, the correct balance of neural transmission and its regulation is of particular significance, and neuropeptides have a significant role. Prolyl oligopeptidase (PREP) is a protein highly expressed in brain, and evidence indicates that it is related to aging and in neurodegenration. Although PREP is regarded as a peptidase, the physiological substrates in the brain have not been defined, and after intense research, the molecular mechanisms where this protein is involved have not been defined. We propose that PREP functions as a regulator of other proteins though peptide gated direct interaction. We speculate that, at least in some processes where PREP has shown to be relevant, the peptidase activity is only a consequence of the interactions, and not the main physiological activity.
  • Svarcbahs, Reinis; Julku, Ulrika; Kilpelainen, Tommi; Kyyrö, Mirva; Jäntti, Maria; Myohänen, Timo T. (2019)
    Changes in prolyl oligopeptidase (PREP) expression levels, protein distribution, and activity correlate with aging and are reported in many neurodegenerative conditions. Together with decreased neuropeptide levels observed in aging and neurodegeneration, and PREP's ability to cleave only small peptides, PREP was identified as a druggable target. Known PREP non-enzymatic functions were disregarded or attributed to PREP enzymatic activity, and several potent small molecule PREP inhibitors were developed during early stages of PREP research. These showed a lot of potential but with variable results in experimental memory models, however, the initial excitement was short-lived and all of the clinical trials were discontinued in either Phase I or II clinical trials for unknown reasons. Recently, PREP's ability to form protein-protein interactions, alter cell proliferation and autophagy has gained more attention than earlier recognized catalytical activity. Of new findings, particularly the aggregation of alpha-synuclein (aSyn) that is seen in the presence of PREP is especially interesting because PREP inhibitors are capable of altering aSyn-PREP interaction in a manner that reduces the aSyn dimerization process. Therefore, it is possible that PREP inhibitors that are altering interactions could have different characteristics than those aimed for strong inhibition of catalytic activity. Moreover, PREP co-localization with aSyn, tau, and amyloid-beta hints to PREP's possible role not only in the synucleinopathies but in other neurodegenerative diseases as well. This commentary will focus on less well-acknowledged non-enzymatic functions of PREP that may provide a better approach for the development of PREP inhibitors for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Svarcbahs, Reinis; Jäntti, Maria; Kilpeläinen, Tommi; Julku, Ulrika; Urvas, Lauri; Kivioja, Saara; Norrbacka, Susanna; Myöhänen, Timo (2020)
    Prolyl oligopeptidase (PREP) is a serine protease that has been studied particularly in the context of neurode-generative diseases for decades but its physiological function has remained unclear. We have previously found that PREP negatively regulates beclinl-mediated macroautophagy (autophagy), and that PREP inhibition by a small-molecule inhibitor induces clearance of protein aggregates in Parkinson's disease models. Since autophagy induction has been suggested as a potential therapy for several diseases, we wanted to further characterize how PREP regulates autophagy. We measured the levels of various kinases and proteins regulating beclin1-autophagy in HEK-293 and SH-SY5Y cell cultures after PREP inhibition, PREP deletion, and PREP overexpression and restoration, and verified the results in vivo by using PREP knock-out and wild-type mouse tissue where PREP was restored or overexpressed, respectively. We found that PREP regulates autophagy by interacting with protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) and its endogenous inhibitor, protein phosphatase methylesterase 1 (PME1), and activator (protein phosphatase 2 phosphatase activator, PTPA), thus adjusting its activity and the levels of PP2A in the intracellular pool. PREP inhibition and deletion increased PP2A activity, leading to activation of deathassociated protein kinase 1 (DAPK1), beclin1 phosphorylation and induced autophagy while PREP overexpression reduced this. Lowered activity of PP2A is connected to several neurodegenerative disorders and cancers, and PP2A activators would have enormous potential as drug therapy but development of such compounds has been a challenge. The concept of PREP inhibition has been proved safe, and therefore, our study supports the further development of PREP inhibitors as PP2A activators.