Neurons are postmitotic cells. Reactivation of the cell cycle by neurons has been reported in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brains and models. This gave rise to the hypothesis that reentering the cell cycle renders neurons vulnerable and thus contributes to AD pathogenesis. Here, we use the fluorescent ubiquitination-based cell cycle indicator (FUCCI) technology to monitor the cell cycle in live neurons. We found transient, self-limited cell cycle reentry activity in naive neurons, suggesting that their postmitotic state is a dynamic process. Furthermore, we observed a diverse response to oligomeric amyloid-β (oAβ) challenge; neurons without cell cycle reentry activity would undergo cell death without activating the FUCCI reporter, while neurons undergoing cell cycle reentry activity at the time of the oAβ challenge could maintain and increase FUCCI reporter signal and evade cell death. Accordingly, we observed marked neuronal FUCCI positivity in the brains of human mutant Aβ precursor protein transgenic (APP23) mice together with increased neuronal expression of the endogenous cell cycle control protein geminin in the brains of 3-mo-old APP23 mice and human AD brains. Taken together, our data challenge the current view on cell cycle in neurons and AD, suggesting that pathways active during early cell cycle reentry in neurons protect from Aβ toxicity.
- cell cycle
- postmitotic neurons