It is well established that proteolytic processing of the β-amyloid precursor protein (APP) generates β-amyloid which plays a central role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. In contrast, the physiological role of APP and the question of whether a loss of these functions contributes to Alzheimer’s disease are still unclear. For a long time, the characterization of APP functions was markedly hampered by the high redundancy between APP and the related APP family members amyloid precursor-like proteins 1 and 2. The generation and analyses of combined gene deficiencies for APP and amyloid precursor-like proteins in mice finally marked the beginning of uncovering the in vivo roles of these proteins in mammals. In the current review, we summarize recent insights into the functions of the APP gene family from mice lacking one, two or all three family members.
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