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Genetics Home Reference: your guide to understanding genetic conditions     A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine®


Reviewed December 2013

What is the official name of the PSEN1 gene?

The official name of this gene is “presenilin 1.”

PSEN1 is the gene's official symbol. The PSEN1 gene is also known by other names, listed below.

What is the normal function of the PSEN1 gene?

The PSEN1 gene provides instructions for making a protein called presenilin 1. This protein is one part (subunit) of a complex called gamma- (γ-) secretase. Presenilin 1 carries out the major function of the complex, which is to cut apart (cleave) other proteins into smaller pieces called peptides. This process is called proteolysis, and presenilin 1 is described as the proteolytic subunit of γ-secretase.

The γ-secretase complex is located in the membrane that surrounds cells, where it cleaves many different proteins that span the cell membrane (transmembrane proteins). This cleavage is an important step in several chemical signaling pathways that transmit signals from outside the cell into the nucleus. One of these pathways, known as Notch signaling, is essential for the normal maturation and division of hair follicle cells and other types of skin cells. Notch signaling is also involved in normal immune system function.

The γ-secretase complex may be best known for its role in processing amyloid precursor protein (APP), which is made in the brain and other tissues. γ-secretase cuts APP into smaller peptides, including soluble amyloid precursor protein (sAPP) and several versions of amyloid-beta (β) peptide. Evidence suggests that sAPP has growth-promoting properties and may play a role in the formation of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain both before and after birth. Other functions of sAPP and amyloid-β peptide are under investigation.

How are changes in the PSEN1 gene related to health conditions?

Alzheimer disease - caused by mutations in the PSEN1 gene

More than 150 PSEN1 gene mutations have been identified in patients with early-onset Alzheimer disease, a degenerative brain condition that begins before age 65. Mutations in the PSEN1 gene are the most common cause of early-onset Alzheimer disease, accounting for up to 70 percent of cases.

Almost all PSEN1 gene mutations change single building blocks of DNA (nucleotides) in a particular segment of the PSEN1 gene. These mutations result in the production of an abnormal presenilin 1 protein. Defective presenilin 1 interferes with the function of the γ-secretase complex, which alters the processing of APP and leads to the overproduction of a longer, toxic version of amyloid-β peptide. Copies of this protein fragment stick together and build up in the brain, forming clumps called amyloid plaques that are a characteristic feature of Alzheimer disease. A buildup of toxic amyloid-β peptide and the formation of amyloid plaques likely lead to the death of neurons and the progressive signs and symptoms of this disorder.

hidradenitis suppurativa - caused by mutations in the PSEN1 gene

At least one mutation in the PSEN1 gene has been found to cause hidradenitis suppurativa, a chronic skin disease characterized by recurrent boil-like lumps (nodules) under the skin that develop in hair follicles. The nodules tend to become inflamed and painful, and they produce significant scarring as they heal.

The identified mutation deletes a single DNA building block (nucleotide) from the PSEN1 gene, written as 725delC. This genetic change reduces the amount of functional presenilin 1 produced in cells, so less of this protein is available to act as part of the γ-secretase complex. The resulting shortage of normal γ-secretase impairs cell signaling pathways, including Notch signaling. Although little is known about the mechanism, studies suggest that abnormal Notch signaling may promote the development of recurrent nodules in hair follicles and trigger inflammation in the skin.

Studies suggest that the PSEN1 gene mutation that causes hidradenitis suppurativa has a different effect on γ-secretase function than the mutations that cause early-onset Alzheimer disease. These differences may explain why no single PSEN1 gene mutation has been reported to cause the signs and symptoms of both diseases.

Where is the PSEN1 gene located?

Cytogenetic Location: 14q24.3

Molecular Location on chromosome 14: base pairs 73,136,435 to 73,223,691

(Homo sapiens Annotation Release 107, GRCh38.p2) (NCBI (

The PSEN1 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 14 at position 24.3.

The PSEN1 gene is located on the long (q) arm of chromosome 14 at position 24.3.

More precisely, the PSEN1 gene is located from base pair 73,136,435 to base pair 73,223,691 on chromosome 14.

See How do geneticists indicate the location of a gene? ( in the Handbook.

Where can I find additional information about PSEN1?

You and your healthcare professional may find the following resources about PSEN1 helpful.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for genetics professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for the PSEN1 gene or gene products?

  • AD3
  • FAD
  • presenilin 1 (Alzheimer disease 3)
  • presenilin 1 protein
  • PS1
  • PSNL1 gene product
  • S182 protein

See How are genetic conditions and genes named? ( in the Handbook.

What glossary definitions help with understanding PSEN1?

amyloid ; cardiomyopathy ; cell ; cell membrane ; chronic ; degenerative ; dilated ; DNA ; familial ; gene ; gene product ; hair follicle ; immune system ; inflammation ; mutation ; nucleotide ; nucleus ; peptide ; precursor ; protein ; soluble ; subunit ; toxic ; transmembrane

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.


  • Cordy JM, Hooper NM, Turner AJ. The involvement of lipid rafts in Alzheimer's disease. Mol Membr Biol. 2006 Jan-Feb;23(1):111-22. Review. (
  • Das HK. Transcriptional regulation of the presenilin-1 gene: implication in Alzheimer's disease. Front Biosci. 2008 Jan 1;13:822-32. Review. (
  • Larner AJ, Doran M. Clinical phenotypic heterogeneity of Alzheimer's disease associated with mutations of the presenilin-1 gene. J Neurol. 2006 Feb;253(2):139-58. Epub 2005 Nov 4. Review. (
  • Melnik BC, Plewig G. Impaired Notch signalling: the unifying mechanism explaining the pathogenesis of hidradenitis suppurativa (acne inversa). Br J Dermatol. 2013 Apr;168(4):876-8. doi: 10.1111/bjd.12068. Epub 2013 Jan 31. (
  • NCBI Gene (
  • Pink AE, Simpson MA, Desai N, Dafou D, Hills A, Mortimer P, Smith CH, Trembath RC, Barker JN. Mutations in the γ-secretase genes NCSTN, PSENEN, and PSEN1 underlie rare forms of hidradenitis suppurativa (acne inversa). J Invest Dermatol. 2012 Oct;132(10):2459-61. doi: 10.1038/jid.2012.162. Epub 2012 May 24. (
  • Pink AE, Simpson MA, Desai N, Trembath RC, Barker JN. γ-Secretase mutations in hidradenitis suppurativa: new insights into disease pathogenesis. J Invest Dermatol. 2013 Mar;133(3):601-7. doi: 10.1038/jid.2012.372. Epub 2012 Oct 25. Review. (
  • Tanzi RE. The genetics of Alzheimer disease. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2012 Oct 1;2(10). pii: a006296. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a006296. Review. (
  • Thinakaran G, Parent AT. Identification of the role of presenilins beyond Alzheimer's disease. Pharmacol Res. 2004 Oct;50(4):411-8. Review. (
  • Wang B, Yang W, Wen W, Sun J, Su B, Liu B, Ma D, Lv D, Wen Y, Qu T, Chen M, Sun M, Shen Y, Zhang X. Gamma-secretase gene mutations in familial acne inversa. Science. 2010 Nov 19;330(6007):1065. doi: 10.1126/science.1196284. Epub 2010 Oct 7. (


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? ( in the Handbook.

Reviewed: December 2013
Published: February 1, 2016