Nicastrin (NCST, or NCT), a single-pass membrane glycoprotein that harbors a large extracellular domain, is an essential component of the gamma-secretase complex. Several lines of evidence indicate that the members of these complexes could also contribute to the control of cell death. NCT controls cell death via phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt and p53-dependent pathways and that this function remains independent of the activity and molecular integrity of the gamma-secretase complexes. Increasing evidences have shown that Nicastrin/NCSTN plays a crucial role in gamma-cleavage of the amyloid precursor protein (APP). The glycoprotein Nicastrin is an essential component of the gamma-secretase complex, a high molecular weight complex which also contains the presenilin proteins, Aph-1 and Pen-2. The gamma-secretase complex is not only involved in APP processing but also in the processing of an increasing number of other type I integral membrane proteins. As the largest subunit of the gamma-secretase complex, Nicastrin plays a crucial role in its activation. Inhibition of NCSTN demonstrated an altered gamma-cleavage activity, suggesting its potential implication in developing Alzheimer's disease (AD). In addition, Nicastrin can function to maintain epithelial to mesenchymal transition during breast cancer progression. Anti-nicastrin polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies were able to decrease notch1 and vimentin expression and reduced the invasive capacity of breast cancer cells in vitro.
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