Methylene blue activates the PMCA activity and cross-interacts with amyloid β-peptide, blocking Aβ-mediated PMCA inhibition

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The phenothiazine methylene blue (MB) is attracting increasing attention because it seems to have beneficial effects in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Among other factors, the presence of neuritic plaques of amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) aggregates, neurofibrilar tangles of tau and perturbation of cytosolic Ca2+ are important players of the disease. It has been proposed that MB decreases the formation of neuritic plaques due to Aβ aggregation. However, the molecular mechanism underlying this effect is far from clear. In this work, we show that MB stimulates the Ca2+-ATPase activity of the plasma membrane Ca2+-ATPase (PMCA) in human tissues from AD-affected brain and age-matched controls and also from pig brain and cell cultures. In addition, MB prevents and even blocks the inhibitory effect of Aβ on PMCA activity. Functional analysis with mutants and fluorescence experiments strongly suggest that MB binds to PMCA, at the C-terminal tail, in a site located close to the last transmembrane helix and also that MB binds to the peptide. Besides, Aβ increases PMCA affinity for MB. These results point out a novel molecular basis of MB action on Aβ and PMCA as mediator of its beneficial effect on AD.HIGHLIGHTSMethylene blue activates the PMCA pump.Methylene blue blocks the toxic effect of Aβ on PMCA.The Aβ peptide increases MB affinity for PMCA.

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