In yeast, fragmentation of amyloid polymers by the Hsp104 chaperone allows them to propagate as prions. The prion-forming domain of the yeast Sup35 protein is rich in glutamine, asparagine, tyrosine, and glycine residues, which may define its prion properties. Long polyglutamine stretches can also drive amyloid polymerization in yeast, but these polymers are unable to propagate because of poor fragmentation and exist through constant seeding with the Rnq1 prion polymers. We proposed that fragmentation of polyglutamine amyloids may be improved by incorporation of hydrophobic amino acid residues into polyglutamine stretches. To investigate this, we constructed sets of polyglutamine with or without tyrosine stretches fused to the non-prion domains of Sup35. Polymerization of these chimeras started rapidly, and its efficiency increased with stretch size. Polymerization of proteins with polyglutamine stretches shorter than 70 residues required Rnq1 prion seeds. Proteins with longer stretches polymerized independently of Rnq1 and thus could propagate. The presence of tyrosines within polyglutamine stretches dramatically enhanced polymer fragmentation and allowed polymer propagation in the absence of Rnq1 and, in some cases, of Hsp104.
[PSI+], the prion form of the yeast Sup35 protein, results from the structural conversion of Sup35 from a soluble form into an infectious amyloid form. The infectivity of prions is thought to result from chaperone-dependent fiber cleavage that breaks large prion fibers into smaller, inheritable propagons. Like the mammalian prion protein PrP, Sup35 contains an oligopeptide repeat domain. Deletion analysis indicates that the oligopeptide repeat domain is critical for [PSI+] propagation, while a distinct region of the prion domain is responsible for prion nucleation. The PrP oligopeptide repeat domain can substitute for the Sup35 oligopeptide repeat domain in supporting [PSI+] propagation, suggesting a common role for repeats in supporting prion maintenance. However, randomizing the order of the amino acids in the Sup35 prion domain does not block prion formation or propagation, suggesting that amino acid composition is the primary determinant of Sup35's prion propensity. Thus, it is unclear what role the oligopeptide repeats play in [PSI+] propagation: the repeats could simply act as a non-specific spacer separating the prion nucleation domain from the rest of the protein; the repeats could contain specific compositional elements that promote prion propagation; or the repeats, while not essential for prion propagation, might explain some unique features of [PSI+]. Here, we test these three hypotheses and show that the ability of the Sup35 and PrP repeats to support [PSI+] propagation stems from their amino acid composition, not their primary sequences. Furthermore, we demonstrate that compositional requirements for the repeat domain are distinct from those of the nucleation domain, indicating that prion nucleation and propagation are driven by distinct compositional features.
Prions are self-propagating conformations of proteins that can cause heritable phenotypic traits. Most yeast prions contain glutamine (Q)/asparagine (N)-rich domains that facilitate the accumulation of the protein into amyloid-like aggregates. Efficient transmission of these infectious aggregates to daughter cells requires that chaperones, including Hsp104 and Sis1, continually sever the aggregates into smaller “seeds.” We previously identified 11 proteins with Q/N-rich domains that, when overproduced, facilitate the de novo aggregation of the Sup35 protein into the [PSI
+] prion state. Here, we show that overexpression of many of the same 11 Q/N-rich proteins can also destabilize pre-existing [PSI+] or [URE3] prions. We explore in detail the events leading to the loss (curing) of [PSI+] by the overexpression of one of these proteins, the Q/N-rich domain of Pin4, which causes Sup35 aggregates to increase in size and decrease in transmissibility to daughter cells. We show that the Pin4 Q/N-rich domain sequesters Hsp104 and Sis1 chaperones away from the diffuse cytoplasmic pool. Thus, a mechanism by which heterologous Q/N-rich proteins impair prion propagation appears to be the loss of cytoplasmic Hsp104 and Sis1 available to sever [PSI+].
Certain proteins can occasionally misfold into infectious aggregates called prions. Once formed, these aggregates grow by attracting the soluble form of that protein to join them. The presence of these aggregates can cause profound effects on cells and, in humans, can cause diseases such as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). In yeast, the aggregates are efficiently transmitted to daughter cells because they are cut into small pieces by molecular scissors (chaperones). Here we show that heritable prion aggregates are frequently lost when we overproduce certain other proteins with curing activity. We analyzed one such protein in detail and found that when it is overproduced it forms aggregates that sequester chaperones. This sequestration appears to block the ability of the chaperones to cut the prion aggregates. The result is that the prions get too large to be transmitted to daughter cells. Such sequestration of molecular scissors provides a potential approach to thwart the propagation of disease-causing infectious protein aggregates.
Prions are self-perpetuating aggregated proteins that are not limited to mammalian systems but also exist in lower eukaryotes including yeast. While much work has focused around chaperones involved in prion maintenance, including Hsp104, little is known about factors involved in the appearance of prions. De novo appearance of the [PSI+] prion, which is the aggregated form of the Sup35 protein, is dramatically enhanced by transient overexpression of SUP35 in the presence of the prion form of the Rnq1 protein, [PIN+]. When fused to GFP and overexpressed in [ps−] [PIN+] cells, Sup35 forms fluorescent rings, and cells with these rings bud off [PSI+] daughters. We investigated the effects of over 400 gene deletions on this de novo induction of [PSI+]. Two classes of gene deletions were identified. Class I deletions (bug1Δ, bem1Δ, arf1Δ, and hog1Δ) reduced the efficiency of [PSI+] induction, but formed rings normally. Class II deletions (las17Δ, vps5Δ, and sac6Δ) inhibited both [PSI+] induction and ring formation. Furthermore, class II deletions reduced, while class I deletions enhanced, toxicity associated with the expanded glutamine repeats of the huntingtin protein exon 1 that causes Huntington's disease. This suggests that prion formation and polyglutamine aggregation involve a multi-phase process that can be inhibited at different steps.
Certain proteins that exist in functional unaggregated conformers can also form self-perpetuating infectious aggregates called prions. Here we investigate factors involved in the initial switch to the prion form. De novo appearance of the [PSI+] prion, which is the aggregated form of the Sup35 protein, is dramatically enhanced by overexpression of the SUP35 gene in the presence of the prion form of the Rnq1 protein, [PIN+]. When tagged with green fluorescent protein and transiently overexpressed in [psi−] [PIN+] cells, Sup35 forms fluorescent rings, and cells with these rings give rise to daughter cells that are [PSI+]. Here, we investigate factors required for this induction of [PSI+]. Analyses of over 400 gene deletions revealed two classes that reduce [PSI+] induction: one class forms fluorescent rings normally, and the other does not. Interestingly, the former class enhanced, while the latter class reduced, toxicity associated with the expanded polyglutamine repeats of the huntingtin protein exon 1 that causes Huntington's disease. These results suggest that prion formation and polyglutamine aggregation involve a multi-phase process that can be inhibited at different steps.
Inheritance of phenotypic traits depends on two key events: replication of the determinant of that trait and partitioning of these copies between mother and daughter cells. Although these processes are well understood for nucleic acid–based genes, the mechanisms by which protein-only or prion-based genetic elements direct phenotypic inheritance are poorly understood. Here, we report a process crucial for inheritance of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae prion [PSI+], a self-replicating conformer of the Sup35 protein. By tightly controlling expression of a Sup35-GFP fusion, we directly observe remodeling of existing Sup35[PSI+] complexes in vivo. This dynamic change in Sup35[PSI+] is lost when the molecular chaperone Hsp104, a factor essential for propagation of all yeast prions, is functionally impaired. The loss of Sup35[PSI+] remodeling by Hsp104 decreases the mobility of these complexes in the cytosol, creates a segregation bias that limits their transmission to daughter cells, and consequently diminishes the efficiency of conversion of newly made Sup35 to the prion form. Our observations resolve several seemingly conflicting reports on the mechanism of Hsp104 action and point to a single Hsp104-dependent event in prion propagation.
The inheritance of phenotypic traits (the observable characteristics of the organism) is a fundamental process in biology. Most phenotypes are controlled by a cell's genes, and a particular phenotype becomes heritable when this underlying genetic information is copied and transmitted to progeny. In contrast, another group of phenotypes appears to be inherited through a protein-only, or prion, mechanism in which the structure of a protein rather than its sequence is the molecular determinant of the phenotype. It is thought that the presence of a prion in a cell forces conversion of a normal cellular protein into a differently folded shape (the prion form), which simultaneously deprives the cell of the protein's normal function and causes the prion-folded protein to aggregate within the cell. However, prion inheritance (how prions are passed down to daughter cells) remains poorly understood.
Using the yeast prion [PSI+] as a model system, we have elucidated a process necessary for protein-only inheritance. Here we show that the molecular chaperone Hsp104, a factor necessary for the inheritance of all known yeast prions, plays a single primary role in generating additional templates for protein-state replication. In the absence of this activity, existing prion templates are inefficiently transferred to daughter cells. As a consequence, the rate of protein-state replication is greatly decreased, and the protein-based phenotype is progressively lost.
The authors examine the role of the molecular chaperone Hsp104 in controlling inheritance of the prion form of Sup35[PSI+].
The Saccharomyces cerevisiae [PSI+] prion is a misfolded form of Sup35p that propagates as self-replicating cytoplasmic aggregates. Replication is believed to occur through breakage of transmissible [PSI+] prion particles, or seeds, into more numerous pieces. In [PSI+] cells, large Sup35p aggregates are formed by coalescence of smaller sodium dodecyl sulfate-insoluble polymers. It is uncertain if polymers or higher-order aggregates or both act as prion seeds. A mutant Hsp70 chaperone, Ssa1-21p, reduces the number of transmissible [PSI+] seeds per cell by 10-fold but the overall amount of aggregated Sup35p by only two- to threefold. This discrepancy could be explained if, in SSA1-21 cells, [PSI+] seeds are larger or more of the aggregated Sup35p does not function as a seed. To visualize differences in aggregate size, we constructed a Sup35-green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion (NGMC) that has normal Sup35p function and can propagate like [PSI+]. Unlike GFP fusions lacking Sup35p's essential C-terminal domain, NGMC did not form fluorescent foci in log-phase [PSI+] cells. However, using fluorescence recovery after photobleaching and size fractionation techniques, we find evidence that NGMC is aggregated in these cells. Furthermore, the aggregates were larger in SSA1-21 cells, but the size of NGMC polymers was unchanged. Possibly, NGMC aggregates are bigger in SSA1-21 cells because they contain more polymers. Our data suggest that Ssa1-21p interferes with disruption of large Sup35p aggregates, which lack or have limited capacity to function as seed, into polymers that function more efficiently as [PSI+] seeds.
Infectious amyloid forms of the release factor, Sup35, comprise the yeast prion [PSI+]. This protein-based unit of inheritance is an evolutionary capacitor able to release cryptic genetic variation during environmental stress and generate potentially beneficial phenotypes. Genetic data have uncovered a sophisticated proteostasis network that tightly regulates [PSI+] formation, propagation and elimination. Central to this network, is the AAA+ ATPase and protein disaggregase, Hsp104. Shifting the balance of the cytosolic Hsp70:Hsp40 chaperone machinery and associated nucleotide exchange factors also influences the [PSI+] prion cycle. Yet, a precise understanding of how these systems co-operate to directly modulate the protein folding events required for sustainable Sup35 prionogenesis has remained elusive. Here, we spotlight recent advances that begin to clarify this issue. We suggest that the Hsp70:Hsp40 chaperone machinery functions collectively as a rheostat that adjusts Hsp104's basic prion-remodeling activities.
Sup35; prion; Hsp104; Hsp70; Hsp40; chaperone
Prions are infectious, self-propagating protein conformations. Rnq1 is required for the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae prion [PIN+], which is necessary for the de novo induction of a second prion, [PSI+]. Here we isolated a [PSI+]-eliminating mutant, Rnq1Δ100, that deletes the nonprion domain of Rnq1. Rnq1Δ100 inhibits not only [PSI+] prion propagation but also [URE3] prion and huntingtin's polyglutamine aggregate propagation in a [PIN+] background but not in a [pin−] background. Rnq1Δ100, however, does not eliminate [PIN+]. These findings are interpreted as showing a possible involvement of the Rnq1 prion in the maintenance of heterologous prions and polyQ aggregates. Rnq1 and Rnq1Δ100 form a sodium dodecyl sulfate-stable and Sis1 (an Hsp40 chaperone protein)-containing coaggregate in [PIN+] cells. Importantly, Rnq1Δ100 is highly QN-rich and prone to self-aggregate or coaggregate with Rnq1 when coexpressed in [pin−] cells. However, the [pin−] Rnq1-Rnq1Δ100 coaggregate does not represent a prion-like aggregate. These findings suggest that [PIN+] Rnq1-Rnq1Δ100 aggregates interact with other transmissible and nontransmissible amyloids to destabilize them and that the nonprion domain of Rnq1 plays a crucial role in self-regulation of the highly reactive QN-rich prion domain of Rnq1.
The yeast and fungal prions determine heritable and infectious traits, and are thus genes composed of protein. Most prions are inactive forms of a normal protein as it forms a self-propagating filamentous β – sheet - rich polymer structure called amyloid. Remarkably, a single prion protein sequence can form two or more faithfully inherited prion variants, in effect alleles of these genes. What protein structure explains this protein-based inheritance? Using solid-state NMR, we showed that the infectious amyloids of the prion domains of Ure2p, Sup35p and Rnq1p have an in-register parallel architecture. This structure explains how the amyloid filament ends can template the structure of a new protein as it joins the filament.
The yeast prions [PSI+] and [URE3] are not found in wild strains, indicating they are a disadvantage to the cell. Moreover, the prion domains of Ure2p and Sup35p have functions unrelated to prion formation, indicating that these domains are not present for the purpose of forming prions. Indeed, prion forming ability is not conserved, even within S. cerevisiae, suggesting that the rare formation of prions is a disease. The prion domain sequences generally vary more rapidly in evolution than does the remainder of the molecule, producing a barrier to prion transmission, perhaps selected in evolution by this protection.
prion; amyloid; in-register parallel structure
Most prions in yeast form amyloid fibrils that must be severed by the protein disaggregase Hsp104 to be propagated and transmitted efficiently to newly formed buds. Only one yeast prion, [PSI+], is cured by Hsp104 overexpression. We investigated the interaction between Hsp104 and Sup35, the priongenic protein in yeast that forms the [PSI+] prion.1 We found that a 20-amino acid segment within the highly-charged, unstructured middle domain of Sup35 contributes to the physical interaction between the middle domain and Hsp104. When this segment was deleted from Sup35, the efficiency of [PSI+] severing was substantially reduced, resulting in larger Sup35 particles and weakening of the [PSI+] phenotype. Furthermore, [PSI+] in these cells was completely resistant to Hsp104 curing. The affinity of Hsp104 was considerably weaker than that of model Hsp104-binding proteins and peptides, implying that Sup35 prions are not ideal substrates for Hsp104-mediated remodeling. In light of this finding, we present a modified model of Hsp104-mediated [PSI+] propagation and curing that requires only partial remodeling of Sup35 assembled into amyloid fibrils.
molecular chaperone; prion; protein aggregation; protein folding; yeast
Propagation of the yeast protein-based non-Mendelian element [PSI], a prion-like form of the release factor Sup35, was shown to be regulated by the interplay between chaperone proteins Hsp104 and Hsp70. While overproduction of Hsp104 protein cures cells of [PSI], overproduction of the Ssa1 protein of the Hsp70 family protects [PSI] from the curing effect of Hsp104. Here we demonstrate that another protein of the Hsp70 family, Ssb, previously implicated in nascent polypeptide folding and protein turnover, exhibits effects on [PSI] which are opposite those of Ssa. Ssb overproduction increases, while Ssb depletion decreases, [PSI] curing by the overproduced Hsp104. Both spontaneous [PSI] formation and [PSI] induction by overproduction of the homologous or heterologous Sup35 protein are increased significantly in the strain lacking Ssb. This is the first example when inactivation of an unrelated cellular protein facilitates prion formation. Ssb is therefore playing a role in protein-based inheritance, which is analogous to the role played by the products of mutator genes in nucleic acid-based inheritance. Ssb depletion also decreases toxicity of the overproduced Sup35 and causes extreme sensitivity to the [PSI]-curing chemical agent guanidine hydrochloride. Our data demonstrate that various members of the yeast Hsp70 family have diverged from each other in regard to their roles in prion propagation and suggest that Ssb could serve as a proofreading component of the enzymatic system, which prevents formation of prion aggregates.
During propagation, yeast prions show a strict sequence preference that confers the specificity of prion assembly. Although propagations of [PSI+] and [RNQ+] are independent of each other, the appearance of [PSI+] is facilitated by the presence of [RNQ+]. To explain the [RNQ+] effect on the appearance of [PSI+], the cross-seeding model was suggested, in which Rnq1 aggregates act as imperfect templates for Sup35 aggregation. If cross-seeding events take place in the cytoplasm of yeast cells, the collision frequency between Rnq1 aggregates and Sup35 will affect the appearance of [PSI+]. In this study, to address whether cross-seeding occurs in vivo, a new [PSI+] induction method was developed that exploits a protein fusion between the prion domain of Sup35 (NM) and Rnq1. This fusion protein successfully joins preexisting Rnq1 aggregates, which should result in the localization of NM around the Rnq1 aggregates and hence in an increased collision frequency between NM and Rnq1 aggregates. The appearance of [PSI+] could be induced very efficiently, even with a low expression level of the fusion protein. This study supports the occurrence of in vivo cross-seeding between Sup35 and Rnq1 and provides a new tool that can be used to dissect the mechanism of the de novo appearance of prions.
The yeast [PSI+], [URE3], and [PIN+] genetic elements are prion forms of Sup35p, Ure2p, and Rnq1p, respectively. Overexpression of Sup35p, Ure2p, or Rnq1p leads to increased de novo appearance of [PSI+], [URE3], and [PIN+], respectively. This inducible appearance of [PSI+] was shown to be dependent on the presence of [PIN+] or [URE3] or overexpression of other yeast proteins that have stretches of polar residues similar to the prion-determining domains of the known prion proteins. In a similar manner, [PSI+] and [URE3] facilitate the appearance of [PIN+]. In contrast to these positive interactions, here we find that in the presence of [PIN+], [PSI+] and [URE3] repressed each other's propagation and de novo appearance. Elevated expression of Hsp104 and Hsp70 (Ssa2p) had little effect on these interactions, ruling out competition between the two prions for limiting amounts of these protein chaperones. In contrast, we find that constitutive overexpression of SSA1 but not SSA2 cured cells of [URE3], uncovering a specific interaction between Ssa1p and [URE3] and a functional distinction between these nearly identical Hsp70 isoforms. We also find that Hsp104 abundance, which critically affects [PSI+] propagation, is elevated when [URE3] is present. Our results are consistent with the notion that proteins that have a propensity to form prions may interact with heterologous prions but, as we now show, in a negative manner. Our data also suggest that differences in how [PSI+] and [URE3] interact with Hsp104 and Hsp70 may contribute to their antagonistic interactions.
A remarkable feature of prion biology is that the same prion protein can misfold into more than one infectious conformation and these conformations, in turn, lead to distinct heritable prion strains with different phenotypes. The yeast prion [PSI+] is a powerful system for studying how changes in the strain conformation affect cross-species transmission. We have previously established that a chimera of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae (SC) and Candida albicans (CA) Sup35 prion domains can cross the SC/CA species barrier in a strain-dependent manner. In vitro, the conversion of the monomeric chimera to the prion (amyloid) form can be seeded by either SC or CA Sup35 amyloid fibers, resulting in two strains: Chim[SC] and Chim[CA]. These strains have a “molecular memory” of their originating species in that Chim[SC] preferentially seeds conversion of SC Sup35, and vice versa. To investigate how this species specificity is conformationally encoded, we used amide exchange and limited proteolysis to probe the structures of these two strains. We found that the amyloid cores of Chim[SC] and Chim[CA] are predominantly confined to the SC- and CA-derived residues respectively. In addition, the chimera is able to propagate the Chim[CA] conformation even when the SC residues that comprise the Chim[SC] core were deleted. Thus the two strains have non-overlapping and modular amyloid cores that determine whether SC or CA residues are presented on the growing face of the prion seed. These observations establish how conformations determine the specificity of prion transmission and demonstrate a remarkable plasticity to amyloid misfolding.
[PSI+]; prion strain; prion species barrier; protein misfolding; hydrogen/deuterium exchange
The formation and maintenance of prions in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is highly regulated by the cellular chaperone machinery. The most important player in this regulation is Hsp104p, which is required for the maintenance of all known prions. The requirements for other chaperones, such as members of the Hsp40 or Hsp70 families, vary with each individual prion. [RNQ+] cells do not have a phenotype that is amenable to genetic screens to identify cellular factors important in prion propagation. Therefore, we used a chimeric construct that reports the [RNQ+] status of cells to perform a screen for mutants that are unable to maintain [RNQ+]. We found eight separate mutations in Hsp104p that caused [RNQ+] cells to become [rnq−]. These mutations also caused the loss of the [PSI+] prion. The expression of one of these mutants, Hsp104p-E190K, showed differential loss of the [RNQ+] and [PSI+] prions in the presence of wild type Hsp104p. Hsp104p-E190K inefficiently propagated [RNQ+] and was unable to maintain [PSI+]. The mutant was unable to act on other in vivo substrates, as strains carrying it were not thermotolerant. Purified recombinant Hsp104p-E190K showed a reduced level of ATP hydrolysis as compared to wild type protein. This is likely the cause of both prion loss and lack of in vivo function. Furthermore, it suggests that [RNQ+] requires less Hsp104p activity to maintain transmissible protein aggregates than Sup35p. Additionally, we show that the L94A mutation in Rnq1p, which reduces its interaction with Sis1p, prevents Rnq1p from maintaining a prion and inducing [PSI+].
[RNQ+]; [PSI+]; Hsp104p; Sis1p; mutagenesis
In eukaryotic cells amyloid aggregates may incorporate various functionally unrelated proteins. In mammalian diseases this may cause amyloid toxicity, while in yeast this could contribute to prion phenotypes. Insolubility of amyloids in the presence of strong ionic detergents, such as SDS or sarcosyl, allows discrimination between amorphous and amyloid aggregates. Here, we used this property of amyloids to study the interdependence of their formation in yeast. We observed that SDS-resistant polymers of proteins with extended polyglutamine domains caused the appearance of SDS or sarcosyl-insoluble polymers of three tested chromosomally-encoded Q/N-rich proteins, Sup35, Rnq1 and Pub1. These polymers were non-heritable, since they could not propagate in the absence of polyglutamine polymers. Sup35 prion polymers caused the appearance of non-heritable sarcosyl-resistant polymers of Pub1. Since eukaryotic genomes encode hundreds of proteins with long Q/N-rich regions, polymer interdependence suggests that conversion of a single protein into polymer form may significantly affect cell physiology by causing partial transfer of other Q/N-rich proteins into a non-functional polymer state.
amyloid; prion; [PSI+]; huntingtin; polyglutamine; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Sup35/eRF3
Fragmentation of amyloid polymers by the chaperone Hsp104 allows them to propagate as prions in yeast. The factors which determine the frequency of fragmentation are unclear, though it is often presumed to depend on the physical strength of prion polymers. Proteins with long polyglutamine stretches represent a tractable model for revealing sequence elements required for polymer fragmentation in yeast, since they form poorly fragmented amyloids. Here we show that interspersion of polyglutamine stretches with various amino acid residues differentially affects the in vivo formation and fragmentation of the respective amyloids. Aromatic residues tyrosine, tryptophan and phenylalanine strongly stimulated polymer fragmentation, leading to the appearance of oligomers as small as dimers. Alanine, methionine, cysteine, serine, threonine and histidine also enhanced fragmentation, while charged residues, proline, glycine and leucine inhibited polymerization. Our data indicate that fragmentation frequency primarily depends on the recognition of fragmentation-promoting residues by Hsp104 and/or its co-chaperones, rather than on the physical stability of polymers. This suggests that differential exposure of such residues to chaperones defines prion variant-specific differences in polymer fragmentation efficiency.
The [URE3] and [PSI+] prions are infectious amyloid forms of Ure2p and Sup35p. Several chaperones influence prion propagation: Hsp104p overproduction destabilizes [PSI+], whereas [URE3] is sensitive to excess of Ssa1p or Ydj1p. Here, we show that overproduction of the chaperone, Sse1p, can efficiently cure [URE3]. Sse1p and Fes1p are nucleotide exchange factors for Ssa1p. Interestingly, deletion of either SSE1 or FES1 completely blocked [URE3] propagation. In addition, deletion of SSE1 also interfered with [PSI+] propagation.
Prions were first identified as infectious proteins associated with fatal brain diseases in mammals. However, fungal prions behave as epigenetic regulators that can alter a range of cellular processes. These proteins propagate as self-perpetuating amyloid aggregates being an example of structural inheritance. The best-characterized examples are the Sup35 and Ure2 yeast proteins, corresponding to [PSI+] and [URE3] phenotypes, respectively.
Here we show that both the prion domain of Sup35 (Sup35-NM) and the Ure2 protein (Ure2p) form inclusion bodies (IBs) displaying amyloid-like properties when expressed in bacteria. These intracellular aggregates template the conformational change and promote the aggregation of homologous, but not heterologous, soluble prionogenic molecules. Moreover, in the case of Sup35-NM, purified IBs are able to induce different [PSI+] phenotypes in yeast, indicating that at least a fraction of the protein embedded in these deposits adopts an infectious prion fold.
An important feature of prion inheritance is the existence of strains, which are phenotypic variants encoded by different conformations of the same polypeptide. We show here that the proportion of infected yeast cells displaying strong and weak [PSI+] phenotypes depends on the conditions under which the prionogenic aggregates are formed in E. coli, suggesting that bacterial systems might become useful tools to generate prion strain diversity.
Protein aggregation; Inclusion bodies; Prions; Sup35-NM; Ure2p; Amyloid fibrils; E. coli
Although many proteins can misfold into a self-seeding amyloid-like conformation1, only six are known to be infectious, i.e. prions; [PSI+], [PIN+], [URE3], [SWI+] and [HET-s] cause distinct heritable physiological changes in fungi2–4, while PrPSc causes infectious encephalopathies in mammals5. It is unknown if “protein-only” inheritance is limited to these exceptional cases, or represents a widespread mechanism of epigenetic control. Towards this goal, we now describe a new prion formed by the Cyc8 (Ssn6) protein of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Analogous to other yeast prions, transient over-production of a glutamine-rich region of Cyc8 induced a heritable dominant cyc8− phenotype that is transmitted cytoplasmically and dependent on the chaperone Hsp104 and the continued presence of the Cyc8 protein. The evolutionarily conserved Cyc8-Tup1 global transcriptional repressor complex6 forms one of the largest gene regulatory circuits, controlling the expression of over 7% of yeast genes7. Our finding that Cyc8 can propagate as a prion, together with a recent report that Swi1 of the Swi-Snf global transcriptional regulatory complex also has a prion form4, shows that prionization can lead to mass activation or repression of yeast genes and is suggestive of a link between the epigenetic phenomena of chromatin remodeling and prion formation.
Replicating amyloids, called prions, are responsible for transmissible
neurodegenerative diseases in mammals and some heritable phenotypes in fungi.
The transmission of prions between species is usually inhibited, being highly
sensitive to small differences in amino acid sequence of the prion-forming
proteins. To understand the molecular basis of this prion interspecies barrier,
we studied the transmission of the
[PSI+] prion state from
Sup35 of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to hybrid Sup35 proteins with
prion-forming domains from four other closely related
Saccharomyces species. Whereas all the hybrid Sup35
proteins could adopt a prion form in S. cerevisiae, they could
not readily acquire the prion form from the
[PSI+] prion of S.
cerevisiae. Expression of the hybrid Sup35 proteins in S.
cells often resulted in frequent loss of the native
[PSI+] prion. Furthermore,
all hybrid Sup35 proteins showed different patterns of interaction with the
native [PSI+] prion in terms of
co-polymerization, acquisition of the prion state, and induced prion loss, all
of which were also dependent on the
[PSI+] variant. The
observed loss of S. cerevisiae
[PSI+] can be related to
inhibition of prion polymerization of S. cerevisiae Sup35 and
formation of a non-heritable form of amyloid. We have therefore identified two
distinct molecular origins of prion transmission barriers between closely
sequence-related prion proteins: first, the inability of heterologous proteins
to co-aggregate with host prion polymers, and second, acquisition by these
proteins of a non-heritable amyloid fold.
Amyloid; Prions; Protein Folding; Translation Release Factors; Yeast; Saccharomyces; Sup35; Prion Interference; Prion Species Barrier
[PSI+] yeast, containing the misfolded amyloid conformation of Sup35 prion, is cured by inactivation of Hsp104. There has been controversy as to whether inactivation of Hsp104 by guanidine treatment or by overexpression of the dominant negative Hsp104 mutant, Hsp104-2KT, cures [PSI+] by the same mechanism– inhibition of the severing of the prion seeds. Using live cell imaging of Sup35-GFP, overexpression of Hsp104-2KT caused the foci to increase in size, then decrease in number, and finally disappear when the cells were cured, similar to that observed in cells cured by depletion of Hsp104. In contrast, guanidine initially caused an increase in foci size but then the foci disappeared before the cells were cured. By starving the yeast to make the foci visible in cells grown with guanidine, the number of cells with foci was found to correlate exactly with the number of [PSI+] cells, regardless of the curing method. Therefore, the fluorescent foci are the prion seeds required for maintenance of [PSI+] and inactivation of Hsp104 cures [PSI+] by preventing severing of the prion seeds. During curing with guanidine, the reduction in seed size is an Hsp104-dependent effect that cannot be explained by limited severing of the seeds. Instead, in the presence of guanidine, Hsp104 retains an activity that trims or reduces the size of the prion seeds by releasing Sup35 molecules that are unable to form new prion seeds. This Hsp104 activity may also occur in propagating yeast.
Amyloid protein aggregation is involved in serious neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and transmissible encephalopathies. The concept of an infectious protein (prion) being the scrapie agent was successfully validated for several yeast and fungi proteins. Ure2, Sup35 and Rnq1 in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and HET-s in Podospora anserina have been genetically and biochemically identified as prion proteins. Studies on these proteins have revealed critical information on the mechanisms of prions appearance and propagation. The prion phenotype correlates with the aggregation state of these particular proteins. In vitro, the recombinant prion proteins form amyloid fibers characterized by rich β sheet content. In a previous work on the HET-s prion protein Podospora, we demonstrated the infectivity of HET-s recombinant amyloid aggregates. More recently, the structural analysis of the HET-s prion domain associated with in vivo mutagenesis allowed us to propose a model for the infectious fold of the HET-s prion domain. Further investigations to complete this model are discussed in this review, as are relevant questions about the [Het-s] system of Podospora anserina.
prion; HET-s; Podospora; amyloid; infectious; β sheet; mutagenesis; fold; propagation
Background: Yeast have been used to study hungtingtin toxicity.
Results: Both HttQ103 and HttQP103 are toxic in yeast with [PSI+] prion. This toxicity is markedly rescued by a Sup35 fragment.
Conclusion: Sequestration of the essential protein, Sup35, contributes to Htt toxicity in yeast.
Significance: This research demonstrates the complex nature of Htt toxicity.
Expression of huntingtin fragments with 103 glutamines (HttQ103) is toxic in yeast containing either the [PIN+] prion, which is the amyloid form of Rnq1, or [PSI+] prion, which is the amyloid form of Sup35. We find that HttQP103, which has a polyproline region at the C-terminal end of the polyQ repeat region, is significantly more toxic in [PSI+] yeast than in [PIN+], even though HttQP103 formed multiple aggregates in both [PSI+] and [PIN+] yeast. This toxicity was only observed in the strong [PSI+] variant, not the weak [PSI+] variant, which has more soluble Sup35 present than the strong variant. Furthermore, expression of the MC domains of Sup35, which retains the C-terminal domain of Sup35, but lacks the N-terminal prion domain, almost completely rescued HttQP103 toxicity, but was less effective in rescuing HttQ103 toxicity. Therefore, the toxicity of HttQP103 in yeast containing the [PSI+] prion is primarily due to sequestration of the essential protein, Sup35.
Huntington Disease; Prions; Protein Folding; Yeast; Yeast Physiology
Yeast prions are protein-based genetic elements that self-perpetuate changes in protein conformation and function. A protein-remodeling factor, Hsp104, controls the inheritance of several yeast prions, including those formed by Sup35 and Ure2. Perplexingly, deletion of Hsp104 eliminates Sup35 and Ure2 prions, whereas overexpression of Hsp104 purges cells of Sup35 prions, but not Ure2 prions. Here, we used pure components to dissect how Hsp104 regulates prion formation, growth, and division. For both Sup35 and Ure2, Hsp104 catalyzes de novo prion nucleation from soluble, native protein. Using a distinct mechanism, Hsp104 fragments both prions to generate new prion assembly surfaces. For Sup35, the fragmentation endpoint is an ensemble of non-infectious, amyloid-like aggregates and soluble protein that cannot replicate conformation. In vivid distinction, the endpoint of Ure2 fragmentation is short prion fibers with enhanced infectivity and self-replicating ability. These advances explain the distinct effects of Hsp104 on the inheritance of the two prions.