Molecular Network Analysis Suggests Aberrant CREB-Mediated Gene Regulation in the Alzheimer Disease Hippocampus
The pathogenesis of Alzheimer disease (AD) involves the complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors affecting multiple cellular pathways. Recent advances in systems biology provide a system-level understanding of AD by elucidating the genome-wide molecular interactions. By using KeyMolnet, a bioinformatics tool for analyzing molecular interactions on the curated knowledgebase, we characterized molecular network of 2,883 all stages of AD-related genes (ADGs) and 559 incipient AD-related genes (IADGs) identified by global gene expression profiling of the hippocampal CA1 region of AD brains in terms of significant clinical and pathological correlations (Blalock et al., Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 101: 2173-2178, 2004). By the common upstream search, KeyMolnet identified cAMP-response element-binding protein (CREB) as the principal transcription factor exhibiting the most significant relevance to molecular networks of both ADGs and IADGs. The CREB-regulated transcriptional network included upregulated and downregulated sets of ADGs and IADGs, suggesting an involvement of generalized deregulation of the CREB signaling pathway in the pathophysiology of AD, beginning at the early stage of the disease. To verify the in silico observations in vivo, we conducted immunohistochemical studies of 11 AD and 13 age-matched control brains by using anti-phoshorylated CREB (pCREB) antibody. An abnormal accumulation of pCREB imunoreactivity was identified in granules of granulovacuolar degeneration (GVD) in the hippocampal neurons of AD brains. These observations suggest that aberrant CREB-mediated gene regulation serves as a molecular biomarker of AD-related pathological processes, and support the hypothesis that sequestration of pCREB in GVD granules is in part responsible for deregulation of CREB-mediated gene expression in AD hippocampus.