Clusterin (CLU), initially identified in 1983 as a “clustering factor” in ram rete testis fluid, is a multifaceted protein that was re-discovered and subsequently renamed eight times from 1983 to 1992. CLU exists as multiple protein isoforms including the 80 kDa glycosylated mature/secreted form of CLU (mCLU) and the smaller non-modified nuclear and intracellular forms of CLU (nCLU and icCLU, respectively). These isoforms, which are expressed at the highest levels in the brain, are suggested to play distinct roles in various disease processes such as those involving inflammation and apoptosis. Currently, CLU, also known as apolipoprotein J (APOJ) which belongs to the same protein family as apolipoprotein E (APOE), is the third most significant genetic risk factor for the development of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD); however, an extensive gap exists in the literature in understanding the physiological roles of CLU in normal brain and the pathogenic mechanisms conferred by CLU polymorphisms in the onset of LOAD. In this chapter, we discuss the status of the current knowledge regarding the generation and regulation of CLU protein isoforms, the clinical evidence and possible mechanisms involved in LOAD, and provide our perspectives for future studies.
Part of the book: Update on Dementia