Five phenotypically distinct subtypes have been identified in sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (sCJD), based on the methionine/valine polymorphic genotype of codon 129 of the prion protein (PrP) gene and the presence of either one of the two protease K-resistant scrapie prion protein (PrPSc) types identified as 1 and 2. The infrequent co-existence of both PrPSc types in the same case has been known for a long time. Recently, it has been reported, using type-specific antibodies, that the PrPSc type 1 is present in all cases of sCJD carrying PrPSc type 2. The consistent co-occurrence of both PrPSc types complicates the diagnosis and the current classification of sCJD, and has implications for the pathogenesis of naturally occurring prion diseases. In the present study, we investigated the prevalence of PrPSc types 1 and 2 co-occurrence, along with its effects on the disease phenotype and PrPSc strain characteristics, comparatively analysing 34 cases of sCJD, all methionine homozygous at codon 129 of the PrP gene (sCJDMM). To minimize overestimating the prevalence of the sCJDMM cases carrying PrPSc types 1 and 2 (sCJDMM1-2), we used proteinase K concentrations designed to hydrolyse all fragments resulting from an incomplete digestion, while preserving the protease-resistant PrPSc core. Furthermore, we used several antibodies to maximize the detection of both PrPSc types. Our data show that sCJDMM cases associated exclusively with either PrPSc type 1 (sCJDMM1) or PrPSc type 2 (sCJDMM2) do exist; we estimate that they account for approximately 56% and 5% of all the sCJDMM cases, respectively; while in 39% of the cases, both PrPSc types 1 and 2 are present together (sCJDMM1-2) either mixed in the same anatomical region or separate in different regions. Clinically, sCJDMM1-2 had an average disease duration intermediate between the other two sCJDMM subtypes. The histopathology was also intermediate, except for the cerebellum where it resembled that of sCJDMM1. These features, along with the PrP immunostaining pattern, offer a diagnostic clue. We also observed a correlation between the disease duration and the prevalence of PrPSc type 2 and sCJDMM2 phenotypes. The use of different antibodies and of the conformational stability immunoassay indicated that the co-existence of types 1 and 2 in the same anatomical region may confer special conformational characteristics to PrPSc types 1 and 2. All of these findings indicate that sCJDMM1-2 should be considered as a separate entity at this time.
prion protein; prion disease; co-existence; conformation; sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease
The origin, range, and structure of prions causing the most common human prion disease, sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD), are largely unknown. To investigate the molecular mechanism responsible for the broad phenotypic variability of sCJD, we analyzed the conformational characteristics of protease-sensitive and protease-resistant fractions of the pathogenic prion protein (PrPSc) using novel conformational methods derived from a conformation-dependent immunoassay (CDI). In 46 brains of patients homozygous for polymorphisms in the PRNP gene and exhibiting either Type 1 or Type 2 western blot pattern of the PrPSc, we identified an extensive array of PrPSc structures that differ in protease sensitivity, display of critical domains, and conformational stability. Surprisingly, in sCJD cases homozygous for methionine or valine at codon 129 of the PRNP gene, the concentration and stability of protease-sensitive conformers of PrPSc correlated with progression rate of the disease. These data indicate that sCJD brains exhibit a wide spectrum of PrPSc structural states, and accordingly argue for a broad spectrum of prion strains coding for different phenotypes. The link between disease duration, levels, and stability of protease-sensitive conformers of PrPSc suggests that these conformers play an important role in the pathogenesis of sCJD.
Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) is the most common human prion disease worldwide. This neurodegenerative disease, which is transmissible and invariably fatal, is characterized by the accumulation of an abnormally folded isoform (PrPSc) of a host-encoded protein (PrPC), predominantly in the brain. Most researchers believe that PrPSc is the infectious agent and five or six subtypes of sCJD have been identified. Whether or not these subtypes represent distinct strains of sCJD prions is debated in the context of the extraordinary variability of sCJD phenotypes, frequent co-occurrence of different PrPSc fragments in the same brain, and the fact that up to 90% of protease-sensitive PrPSc eludes the conventional analysis because it is destroyed by protease treatment. Using novel conformational methods, we identified within each clinical and pathological category an array of PrPSc structures that differ in protease-sensitivity, display of critical domains, and conformational stability. Each of these features offers evidence of a distinct conformation. The link between the rate at which the disease progresses, on the one hand, and the concentration and stability of protease-sensitive conformers of PrPSc on the other, suggests that these conformers play an important role in how the disease originates and progresses.
The current classification of human sporadic prion diseases recognizes six major phenotypic subtypes with distinctive clinicopathological features, which largely correlate at the molecular level with the genotype at the polymorphic codon 129 (methionine, M, or valine, V) in the prion protein gene and with the size of the protease-resistant core of the abnormal prion protein, PrPSc (i.e. type 1 migrating at 21 kDa and type 2 at 19 kDa). We previously demonstrated that PrPSc typing by Western blotting is a reliable means of strain typing and disease classification. Limitations of this approach, however, particularly in the interlaboratory setting, are the association of PrPSc types 1 or 2 with more than one clinicopathological phenotype, which precludes definitive case classification if not supported by further analysis, and the difficulty of fully recognizing cases with mixed phenotypic features. In this study, we tested the inter-rater reliability of disease classification based only on histopathological criteria. Slides from 21 cases covering the whole phenotypic spectrum of human sporadic prion diseases, and also including two cases of variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD), were distributed blindly to 13 assessors for classification according to given instructions. The results showed good-to-excellent agreement between assessors in the classification of cases. In particular, there was full agreement (100 %) for the two most common sporadic CJD subtypes and variant CJD, and very high concordance in general for all pure phenotypes and the most common subtype with mixed phenotypic features. The present data fully support the basis for the current classification of sporadic human prion diseases and indicate that, besides molecular PrPSc typing, histopathological analysis permits reliable disease classification with high interlaboratory accuracy.
An atypical case of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) is described in a 78‐year‐old woman homozygous for methionine at codon 129 of the prion protein (PrP) gene. The neuropathological signature was the presence of PrP immunoreactive plaque‐like deposits in the cerebral cortex, striatum and thalamus. Western blot analysis showed a profile of the pathological form of PrP (PrPSc) previously unrecognised in sporadic CJD, marked by the absence of diglycosylated protease resistant species. These features define a novel neuropathological and molecular CJD phenotype.
An atypical case of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) is described in a 78-year-old woman homozygous for methionine at codon 129 of the prion protein (PrP) gene. The neuropathological signature was the presence of PrP immunoreactive plaque-like deposits in the cerebral cortex, striatum and thalamus. Western blot analysis showed a profile of the pathological form of PrP (PrPSc) previously unrecognised in sporadic CJD, marked by the absence of diglycosylated protease resistant species. These features define a novel neuropathological and molecular CJD phenotype.
Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) is a rare neurodegenerative disorder in humans included in the group of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies or prion diseases. The vast majority of sCJD cases are molecularly classified according to the abnormal prion protein (PrPSc) conformations along with polymorphism of codon 129 of the PRNP gene. Recently, a novel human disease, termed "protease-sensitive prionopathy", has been described. This disease shows a distinct clinical and neuropathological phenotype and it is associated to an abnormal prion protein more sensitive to protease digestion.
We report the case of a 75-year-old-man who developed a clinical course and presented pathologic lesions compatible with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and biochemical findings reminiscent of "protease-sensitive prionopathy". Neuropathological examinations revealed spongiform change mainly affecting the cerebral cortex, putamen/globus pallidus and thalamus, accompanied by mild astrocytosis and microgliosis, with slight involvement of the cerebellum. Confluent vacuoles were absent. Diffuse synaptic PrP deposits in these regions were largely removed following proteinase treatment. PrP deposition, as revealed with 3F4 and 1E4 antibodies, was markedly sensitive to pre-treatment with proteinase K. Molecular analysis of PrPSc showed an abnormal prion protein more sensitive to proteinase K digestion, with a five-band pattern of 28, 24, 21, 19, and 16 kDa, and three aglycosylated isoforms of 19, 16 and 6 kDa. This PrPSc was estimated to be 80% susceptible to digestion while the pathogenic prion protein associated with classical forms of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease were only 2% (type VV2) and 23% (type MM1) susceptible. No mutations in the PRNP gene were found and genotype for codon 129 was heterozygous methionine/valine.
A novel form of human disease with abnormal prion protein sensitive to protease and MV at codon 129 was described. Although clinical signs were compatible with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the molecular subtype with the abnormal prion protein isoforms showing enhanced protease sensitivity was reminiscent of the "protease-sensitive prionopathy". It remains to be established whether the differences found between the latter and this case are due to the polymorphism at codon 129. Different degrees of proteinase K susceptibility were easily determined with the chemical polymer detection system which could help to detect proteinase-susceptible pathologic prion protein in diseases other than the classical ones.
Six clinico-pathological phenotypes of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease have been characterized which correlate at the molecular level with the type (1 or 2) of the abnormal prion protein, PrPTSE, present in the brain and with the genotype of polymorphic (methionine or valine) codon 129 of the prion protein gene. However, to what extent these phenotypes with their corresponding molecular combinations (i.e. MM1, MM2, VV1 etc.) encipher distinct prion strains upon transmission remains uncertain. We studied the PrPTSE type and the prion protein gene in archival brain tissues from the National Institutes of Health series of transmitted Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and kuru cases, and characterized the molecular and pathological phenotype in the affected non-human primates, including squirrel, spider, capuchin and African green monkeys. We found that the transmission properties of prions from the common sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease MM1 phenotype are homogeneous and significantly differ from those of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease VV2 or MV2 prions. Animals injected with iatrogenic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease MM1 and genetic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease MM1 linked to the E200K mutation showed the same phenotypic features as those infected with sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease MM1 prions, whereas kuru most closely resembled the sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease VV2 or MV2 prion signature and neuropathology. The findings indicate that two distinct prion strains are linked to the three most common Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease clinico-pathological and molecular subtypes and kuru, and suggest that kuru may have originated from cannibalistic transmission of a sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease of the VV2 or MV2 subtype.
prion diseases; neuropathology; neurodegenerative disorders; phenotype; strain typing
Insertion of 144-base pair (bp) containing six extra octapeptide repeats between residues 51 and 91 of prion protein (PrP) gene is associated with inherited prion diseases. Most cases linked to this insertion examined by Western blotting showed detectable proteinase K-resistant PrPSc (rPrPSc) resembling PrPSc type 1 and type 2 in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD), or PrP7-8 in Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker disease. However, cases lacking detectable rPrPSc also have been reported. Which PrP conformer is associated with neuropathological changes in the cases without detectable rPrPSc remains to be determined. Here we report that while all six but one subjects with the 144-bp insertion mutations examined display the pathognomonic PrP patches in the cerebellum, one of them exhibits no detectable typical rPrPSc even in PrPSc-enriched preparations. Instead, a large amount of abnormal PrP is captured from this case by gene 5 protein and sodium phosphotungstate, reagents that have been proved to specifically capture abnormal PrP. All captured abnormal PrP from the cerebellum and other brain regions is virtually sensitive to PK-digestion (termed sPrPSc). The presence of the predominant sPrPSc but absence of rPrPSc in this 144-bp insertion-linked inherited CJD case suggests that mutant sPrPSc is the main component of the PrP deposit patches and sPrPSc is sufficient to cause neurotoxicity and prion disease.
Prions; protease-sensitive prions; prion disease; insertion mutation; neuropathology; Western blotting; phenotype
The clinicopathological phenotypes of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) correlate with the allelotypes (M or V) of the polymorphic codon 129 of the human prion protein (PrP) gene and the electrophoretic mobility patterns of abnormal prion protein (PrPSc). Transmission of sCJD prions to mice expressing human PrP with a heterologous genotype (referred to as cross-sequence transmission) results in prolonged incubation periods. We previously reported that cross-sequence transmission can generate a new prion strain with unique transmissibility, designated a traceback phenomenon. To verify experimentally the traceback of sCJD-VV2 prions, we inoculated sCJD-VV2 prions into mice expressing human PrP with the 129M/M genotype. These 129M/M mice showed altered neuropathology and a novel PrPSc type after a long incubation period. We then passaged the brain homogenate from the 129M/M mouse inoculated with sCJD-VV2 prions into other 129M/M or 129V/V mice. Despite cross-sequence transmission, 129V/V mice were highly susceptible to these prions compared to the 129M/M mice. The neuropathology and PrPSc type of the 129V/V mice inoculated with the 129M/M mouse-passaged sCJD-VV2 prions were identical to those of the 129V/V mice inoculated with sCJD-VV2 prions. Moreover, we generated for the first time a type 2 PrPSc-specific antibody in addition to type 1 PrPSc-specific antibody and discovered that drastic changes in the PrPSc subpopulation underlie the traceback phenomenon. Here, we report the first direct evidence of the traceback in prion infection.
Background: Involvement of the eye has been reported in patients with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), but there is disagreement on whether retinal involvement occurs in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD).
Methods: Western blotting, paraffin embedded tissue blotting, and immunohistochemistry were used to test whether the abnormal form of the prion protein (PrPSc) accumulates to detectable levels in the eye in a case of the most common subtype of sCJD (MM1).
Results: Low levels of PrPSc were detectable in the retina, localised to the plexiform layers of the central retina. PrPSc was not detectable in other ocular tissues.
Conclusions: The abnormal form of the prion protein is present in the retina in the most common sCJD subtype (MM1), albeit at levels lower than those found previously in vCJD and in sCJD of the VV2 subtype.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; prion protein; PRNP codon 129 genotype; retina
Human prion diseases are fatal neurodegenerative disorders associated with an accumulation of PrPSc in the central nervous system (CNS). Of the human prion diseases, sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD), which has no known origin, is the most common form while variant CJD (vCJD) is an acquired human prion disease reported to differ from other human prion diseases in its neurological, neuropathological, and biochemical phenotype. Peripheral tissue involvement in prion disease, as judged by PrPSc accumulation in the tonsil, spleen, and lymph node has been reported in vCJD as well as several animal models of prion diseases. However, this distribution of PrPSc has not been consistently reported for sCJD. We reexamined CNS and non-CNS tissue distribution and levels of PrPSc in both sCJD and vCJD. Using a sensitive immunoassay, termed SOFIA, we also assessed PrPSc levels in human body fluids from sCJD as well as in vCJD-infected humanized transgenic mice (Tg666). Unexpectedly, the levels of PrPSc in non-CNS human tissues (spleens, lymph nodes, tonsils) from both sCJD and vCJD did not differ significantly and, as expected, were several logs lower than in the brain. Using protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) followed by SOFIA, PrPSc was detected in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), but not in urine or blood, in sCJD patients. In addition, using PMCA and SOFIA, we demonstrated that blood from vCJD-infected Tg666 mice showing clinical disease contained prion disease-associated seeding activity although the data was not statistically significant likely due to the limited number of samples examined. These studies provide a comparison of PrPSc in sCJD vs. vCJD as well as analysis of body fluids. Further, these studies also provide circumstantial evidence that in human prion diseases, as in the animal prion diseases, a direct comparison and intraspecies correlation cannot be made between the levels of PrPSc and infectivity.
We describe a case report of an 80-year-old woman who presented with symptomatology compatible with an episode of major depression with catatonia. After psychiatric admission, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was applied, but symptoms progressed with cognitive impairment, bradykinesia, widespread stiffness, postural tremor, and gait disturbance. After compatible magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffusion changes, and electroencephalogram (EEG) findings the case was reoriented to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). The genetic study found a methionine/valine heterozygosity at codon 129 of the prion protein gene PrPSc. On followup, a significant clinical recovery turned out. For this reason, EEG and MRI were repeated and confirmed the findings. The patient subsequently demonstrated progressive clinical deterioration and died 21 months later. The diagnosis was verified postmortem by neuropathology. The vCJD subtype MV2 is indeed characterized by early and prominent psychiatric symptoms and a prolonged disease duration however no frank clinical recovery has before been reported.
Prion diseases are a group of invariably fatal neurodegenerative disorders affecting humans and a wide range of mammals. An essential part of the infectious agent, termed the prion, is composed of an abnormal isoform (PrPSc) of a host-encoded normal cellular protein (PrPC). The conversion of PrPC to PrPSc is thought to play a crucial role in the development of prion diseases and leads to PrPSc deposition, mainly in the central nervous system. Sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (sCJD), the most common form of human prion disease, presents with a marked clinical heterogeneity. This diversity is accompanied by a molecular signature which can be defined by histological, biochemical, and genetic means. The molecular classification of sCJD is an important tool to aid in the understanding of underlying disease mechanisms and the development of therapy protocols. Comparability of classifications is hampered by disparity of applied methods and inter-observer variability.
Methods and Findings
To overcome these difficulties, we developed a new quantification protocol for PrPSc by using internal standards on each Western blot, which allows for generation and direct comparison of individual PrPSc profiles. By studying PrPSc profiles and PrPSc type expression within nine defined central nervous system areas of 50 patients with sCJD, we were able to show distinct PrPSc distribution patterns in diverse subtypes of sCJD. Furthermore, we were able to demonstrate the co-existence of more than one PrPSc type in individuals with sCJD in about 20% of all patients and in more than 50% of patients heterozygous for a polymorphism on codon 129 of the gene encoding the prion protein (PRNP).
PrPSc profiling represents a valuable tool for the molecular classification of human prion diseases and has important implications for their diagnosis by brain biopsy. Our results show that the co-existence of more than one PrPSc type might be influenced by genetic and brain region–specific determinants. These findings provide valuable insights into the generation of distinct PrPSc types.
Internal standards allow meaningful comparison of PrPSc profiles from different origins. Applying the new method to 50 postmortem samples from patients with sporadic CJD reveals substantial differences in molecular pathology.
Prion diseases are believed to propagate by the mechanism involving self-perpetuating conformational conversion of the normal form of the prion protein, PrPC, to the misfolded, pathogenic state, PrPSc. One of the most intriguing aspects of these disorders is the phenomenon of prion strains. It is believed that strain properties are fully encoded in distinct conformations of PrPSc. Strains are of practical relevance to human prion diseases, as their diversity may explain the unusual heterogeneity of these disorders. The first insight into the molecular mechanisms underlying heterogeneity of human prion diseases was provided by the observation that two distinct disease phenotypes, and their associated PrPSc conformers, co-distribute with distinct PrP genotypes as determined by the methionine/valine polymorphism at codon 129 of the PrP gene. Subsequent studies identified six possible combinations of the three genotypes (determined by the polymorphic codon 129) and two common PrPSc conformers (named types 1 and 2) as the major determinants of the phenotype in sporadic human prion diseases. This scenario implies that each 129 genotype-PrPSc type combination would be associated with a distinct diseases phenotype and prion strain. However, notable exceptions have been found. For example, two genotype-PrPSc type combinations are linked to the same phenotype and, conversely, the same combination was found to be associated with two distinct phenotypes. Furthermore, in some cases, PrPSc conformers naturally associated with distinct phenotypes appear, upon transmission, to lose their phenotype-determining strain characteristics. Currently it seems safe to assume that typical sporadic prion diseases are associated with at least six distinct prion strains. However the intrinsic characteristics that distinguish at least four of these strains remain to be identified.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; sporadic fatal insomnia; variably protease-sensitive prionopathy; 129 polymorphism; PrPSc type; PrP sequencing
The mammalian prions replicate by converting cellular prion protein (PrPC) into pathogenic conformational isoform (PrPSc). Variations in prions, which cause different disease phenotypes, are referred to as strains. The mechanism of high-fidelity replication of prion strains in the absence of nucleic acid remains unsolved. We investigated the impact of different conformational characteristics of PrPSc on conversion of PrPC in vitro using PrPSc seeds from the most frequent human prion disease worldwide, the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD). The conversion potency of a broad spectrum of distinct sCJD prions was governed by the level, conformation, and stability of small oligomers of the protease-sensitive (s) PrPSc. The smallest most potent prions present in sCJD brains were composed only of∼20 monomers of PrPSc. The tight correlation between conversion potency of small oligomers of human sPrPSc observed in vitro and duration of the disease suggests that sPrPSc conformers are an important determinant of prion strain characteristics that control the progression rate of the disease.
Mammalian prion diseases were originally characterized by accumulation of protease-resistant prion protein (PrPSc), often forming large amyloid deposits and fibrils. However, the apparent absence of protease-resistant PrPSc or amyloid fibrils in growing number of prion diseases raised several fundamental questions; specifically, whether presumably protease-sensitive forms of PrPSc exist as distinct conformers; and whether they comprise the initial steps in prion replication or are related to the alternative misfolding pathway generating noninfectious aggregates. We investigated the conformational characteristics of protease sensitive conformers of PrPSc and their role in the pathogenesis of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD). Using two different in vitro prion protein (PrPC) conversion techniques in tandem with biophysical methods, we identified small oligomers of protease sensitive PrPSc present in sCJD brains as the most potent initiators of PrPC conversion. Their concentration and conformational stability determine the distinctly different replication potency of PrPSc in individual isolates of sCJD and each of these characteristics correlates tightly with duration of the disease. These features argue for a broad range of distinct prion strains causing the sCJD and imply that small oligomers of protease sensitive conformers of pathogenic prion protein are encoding incubation time and progression rate of the disease.
Interspecies transmission of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), or prion diseases, can result in the adaptation and selection of TSE strains with an expanded host range and increased virulence such as in the case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. To investigate TSE strain adaptation, we serially passaged a biological clone of transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME) into Syrian golden hamsters and examined the selection of distinct strain phenotypes and conformations of the disease-specific isoform of the prion protein (PrPSc). The long-incubation-period drowsy (DY) TME strain was the predominate strain, based on the presence of its strain-specific PrPSc following interspecies passage. Additional serial passages in hamsters resulted in the selection of the hyper (HY) TME PrPSc strain-dependent conformation and its short incubation period phenotype unless the passages were performed with a low-dose inoculum (e.g., 10−5 dilution), in which case the DY TME clinical phenotype continued to predominate. For both TME strains, the PrPSc strain pattern preceded stabilization of the TME strain phenotype. These findings demonstrate that interspecies transmission of a single cloned TSE strain resulted in adaptation of at least two strain-associated PrPSc conformations that underwent selection until one type of PrPSc conformation and strain phenotype became predominant. To examine TME strain selection in the absence of host adaptation, hamsters were coinfected with hamster-adapted HY and DY TME. DY TME was able to interfere with the selection of the short-incubation HY TME phenotype. Coinfection could result in the DY TME phenotype and PrPSc conformation on first passage, but on subsequent passages, the disease pattern converted to HY TME. These findings indicate that during TSE strain adaptation, there is selection of a strain-specific PrPSc conformation that can determine the TSE strain phenotype.
Prion diseases are incurable neurodegenerative disorders in which the normal cellular prion protein (PrPC) converts into a misfolded isoform (PrPSc) with unique biochemical and structural properties that correlate with disease. In humans, prion disorders, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, present typically with a sporadic origin, where unknown mechanisms lead to the spontaneous misfolding and deposition of wild type PrP. To shed light on how wild-type PrP undergoes conformational changes and which are the cellular components involved in this process, we analyzed the dynamics of wild-type PrP from hamster in transgenic flies. In young flies, PrP demonstrates properties of the benign PrPC; in older flies, PrP misfolds, acquires biochemical and structural properties of PrPSc, and induces spongiform degeneration of brain neurons. Aged flies accumulate insoluble PrP that resists high concentrations of denaturing agents and contains PrPSc-specific conformational epitopes. In contrast to PrPSc from mammals, PrP is proteinase-sensitive in flies. Thus, wild-type PrP rapidly converts in vivo into a neurotoxic, protease-sensitive isoform distinct from prototypical PrPSc. Next, we investigated the role of molecular chaperones in PrP misfolding in vivo. Remarkably, Hsp70 prevents the accumulation of PrPSc-like conformers and protects against PrP-dependent neurodegeneration. This protective activity involves the direct interaction between Hsp70 and PrP, which may occur in active membrane microdomains such as lipid rafts, where we detected Hsp70. These results highlight the ability of wild-type PrP to spontaneously convert in vivo into a protease-sensitive isoform that is neurotoxic, supporting the idea that protease-resistant PrPSc is not required for pathology. Moreover, we identify a new role for Hsp70 in the accumulation of misfolded PrP. Overall, we provide new insight into the mechanisms of spontaneous accumulation of neurotoxic PrP and uncover the potential therapeutic role of Hsp70 in treating these devastating disorders.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a type of dementia caused by the deposition of the prion protein in the brain. This disorder belongs to a unique class of degenerative diseases that includes mad-cow disease in bovine and scrapie in sheep. An abnormal form of the prion protein is not only responsible for the disease in several mammals, but is also an infectious agent that can transmit the disease within or across species. To shed light on how the prion protein changes from its normal to the disease-causing form, we expressed the prion protein from hamster in transgenic flies. We observed that the prion protein progressively converts to the pathological form and induces neuronal loss in the brain. Thus, the prion protein experiences its typical transition from normal to disease-causing form in flies. This behavior gave us the opportunity to investigate whether other proteins can regulate such transition. We found that the stress-related protein Hsp70 prevents the accumulation of abnormal prion protein and prevents neuronal loss. We also determined that Hsp70 directly interacts with the prion protein in specific membrane domains. Overall, our studies provide new insight into the mechanisms that regulate the accumulation of abnormal prion protein. This discovery could have therapeutic applications in treating these devastating disorders.
OBJECTIVE--To identify cases of inherited prion diseases in Britain and to assess their phenotypic features. DESIGN--Screening study of patients suspected clinically to have Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other neurodegenerative diseases by prion protein gene analysis. SETTING--Biochemical research department. SUBJECTS--Patients suspected to have Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other neurodegenerative diseases. RESULTS--Two patients with symptoms characteristic of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease were found to have inherited prion protein disease (PrP lysine 200), with a mutation at codon 200 of the prion protein gene. Both were homozygous at codon 129 of the gene. One patient was a man aged 58 of British descent while the other was of Libyan Jewish origin. CONCLUSION--Two foci of inherited prion disease are known, among Libyan Jews and in Slovakia. A separate British focus of the disease may also exist. Heterozygosity at codon 129 may lead to reduced penetrance of the mutation.
The phenotypic and strain-related properties of human prion diseases are, according to the prion hypothesis, proposed to reside in the physicochemical properties of the conformationally altered, disease-associated isoform of the prion protein (PrPSc), which accumulates in the brains of patients suffering from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and related conditions, such as Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker disease. Molecular strain typing of human prion diseases has focused extensively on differences in the fragment size and glycosylation site occupancy of the protease-resistant prion protein (PrPres) in conjunction with the presence of mutations and polymorphisms in the prion protein gene (PRNP). Here we report the results of employing an alternative strategy that specifically addresses the conformational stability of PrPSc and that has been used previously to characterize animal prion strains transmitted to rodents. The results show that there are at least two distinct conformation stability states in human prion diseases, neither of which appears to correlate fully with the PrPres type, as judged by fragment size or glycosylation, the PRNP codon 129 status, or the presence or absence of mutations in PRNP. These results suggest that conformational stability represents a further dimension to a complete description of potentially phenotype-related properties of PrPSc in human prion diseases.
The first transmissions of human prion diseases to rodents used guinea pigs (Gps, Cavia porcellus). Later, transgenic (Tg) mice expressing human or chimeric human/mouse PrP replaced Gps, but the small size of the mouse limits some investigations. To investigate the fidelity of strain-specific prion transmission to Gps, we inoculated “type 1” and “type 2” prion strains into Gps: we measured the incubation times and determined the strain-specified size of the unglycosylated, protease-resistant (r) PrPSc fragment. Prions passaged once in Gps from cases of sporadic (s) Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD) and Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker (GSS) disease caused by the P102L mutation were used as well as human prions from a variant (v) CJD case, bovine prions from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and mouse-passaged scrapie prions. Variant CJD and BSE prions transmitted to all the inoculated Gps with incubation times of 367 ± 4 d and 436 ± 28 d, respectively. On second passage in Gps, vCJD and BSE prions caused disease in 287 ± 4 d and 310 ± 4 d, while sCJD and GSS prions transmitted in 237 ± 4 d and 279 ± 19 d, respectively. Although hamster Sc237 prions transmitted to 2 of 3 Gps after 574 and 792 d, mouse-passaged RML and 301V prion strains, the latter derived from BSE prions, failed to transmit disease to Gps. Those Gps inoculated with vCJD or BSE prions exhibited “type 2” unglycosylated, rPrPSc (19 kDa) while those receiving sCJD or GSS prions displayed “type 1” prions (21 kDa), as determined by Western blotting. Such strain-specific properties were maintained in Gps as well as mice expressing a chimeric human/mouse transgene. Gps may prove particularly useful in further studies of novel human prions such as those causing vCJD.
BSE; vCJD; sCJD; GSS; prions; guinea pig
Intracerebral inoculation of transgenic mice failed to demonstrate prion disease transmission.
Prion diseases are neurodegenerative conditions associated with a misfolded and infectious protein, scrapie prion protein (PrPSc). PrPSc propagate prion diseases within and between species and thus pose risks to public health. Prion infectivity or PrPSc presence has been demonstrated in urine of experimentally infected animals, but there are no recent studies of urine from patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). We performed bioassays in transgenic mice expressing human PrP to assess prion infectivity in urine from patients affected by a common subtype of sporadic CJD, sCJDMM1. We tested raw urine and 100-fold concentrated and dialyzed urine and assessed the sensitivity of the bioassay along with the effect of concentration and dialysis on prion infectivity. Intracerebral inoculation of transgenic mice with urine from 3 sCJDMM1 patients failed to demonstrate prion disease transmission, indicating that prion infectivity in urine from sCJDMM1 patients is either not present or is <0.38 infectious units/mL.
prions; prions and related diseases; Creutzfeld-Jakob disease; neurodegenerative diseases; transmissible spongiform encephalopathy; infectivity; urine; TSE
Prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease are believed to result from the misfolding of a widely expressed normal cellular prion protein, PrPc. The resulting disease-associated isoforms, PrPSc, have much higher β-sheet content, are insoluble in detergents, and acquire relative resistance to proteases. Although known to be highly aggregated and to form amyloid fibrils, the molecular architecture of PrPSc is poorly understood. To date, it has been impossible to elicit antibodies to native PrPSc that are capable of recognizing PrPSc without denaturation, even in Prn-Pº/º mice that are intolerant of it. Here we demonstrate that antibodies for native PrPc and PrPSc can be produced by immunization of Prn-Pº/º mice with partially purified PrPc and PrPSc adsorbed to immunomagnetic particles using high-affinity anti-PrP monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Interestingly, the polyclonal response to PrPSc was predominantly of the immunoglobulin M (IgM) isotype, unlike the immunoglobulin G (IgG) responses elicited by PrPc or by recombinant PrP adsorbed or not to immunomagnetic particles, presumably reflecting the polymeric structure of disease-associated prion protein. Although heat-denatured PrPSc elicited more diverse antibodies with the revelation of C-terminal epitopes, remarkably, these were also predominantly IgM suggesting that the increasing immunogenicity, acquisition of protease sensitivity, and reduction in infectivity induced by heat are not associated with dissociation of the PrP molecules in the diseased-associated protein. Adsorbing native proteins to immunomagnetic particles may have general applicability for raising polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies to any native protein, without attempting laborious purification steps that might affect protein conformation.
Prion diseases are transmissible fatal neurodegenerative disorders affecting humans and animals. A central step in disease progression is the accumulation of a misfolded form (PrPSc) of the host encoded prion protein (PrPC) in neuronal and non-neuronal tissues. The involvement of peripheral tissues in preclinical states increases the risk of accidental transmission. On the other hand, detection of PrPSc in non-neuronal easy-accessible compartments such as muscle may offer a novel diagnostic tool. Primate models have proven invaluable to investigate prion diseases. We have studied the deposition of PrPSc in muscle and central nervous system of rhesus monkeys challenged with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD), variant CJD (vCJD) and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in preclinical and clinical stage using biochemical and morphological methods. Here, we show the preclinical presence of PrPSc in muscle and central nervous system of rhesus monkeys experimentally infected with vCJD.
The four glycoforms of the cellular prion protein (PrPC) variably glycosylated at the two N-linked glycosylation sites are converted into their pathological forms (PrPSc) in most cases of sporadic prion diseases. However, a prominent molecular characteristic of PrPSc in the recently identified variably protease-sensitive prionopathy (VPSPr) is the absence of a diglycosylated form, also notable in familial Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (fCJD), which is linked to mutations in PrP either from Val to Ile at residue 180 (fCJDV180I) or from Thr to Ala at residue 183 (fCJDT183A). Here we report that fCJDV180I, but not fCJDT183A, exhibits a proteinase K (PK)-resistant PrP (PrPres) that is markedly similar to that observed in VPSPr, which exhibits a five-step ladder-like electrophoretic profile, a molecular hallmark of VPSPr. Remarkably, the absence of the diglycosylated PrPres species in both fCJDV180I and VPSPr is likewise attributable to the absence of PrPres glycosylated at the first N-linked glycosylation site at residue 181, as in fCJDT183A. In contrast to fCJDT183A, both VPSPr and fCJDV180I exhibit glycosylation at residue 181 on di- and monoglycosylated (mono181) PrP prior to PK-treatment. Furthermore, PrPV180I with a typical glycoform profile from cultured cells generates detectable PrPres that also contains the diglycosylated PrP in addition to mono- and unglycosylated forms upon PK-treatment. Taken together, our current in vivo and in vitro studies indicate that sporadic VPSPr and familial CJDV180I share a unique glycoform-selective prion formation pathway in which the conversion of diglycosylated and mono181 PrPC to PrPSc is inhibited, probably by a dominant-negative effect, or by other co-factors.
A man was studied with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
(sCJD) who had serial cortical syndromes evolving over 15 months without significant ataxia, prominent myoclonus, or periodic complexes on EEG examinations. This clinical phenotype correlated with a predominantly cortical and striatal distribution of lesions and accumulation of protease resistant prion protein with relative sparing
of the brainstem or cerebellum. No amyloid plaques were seen and prion
protein (PrP) immunohistochemistry only demonstrated very faint
granular deposits in the cerebral cortex. Molecular analysis showed
homozygosity for valine at codon 129 in the prion protein gene
(PRNP) and protease resistant prion protein
type 1 deposition. The comparison of molecular and clinicopathological features of the present case with those previously reported in sCJD,
indicates that valine homozygosity at codon 129 and type 1 protease
resistant prion protein are associated with a distinct phenotypic
variant of sCJD. The data also support the view that the
PRNP codon 129 polymorphism and the
physicochemical properties of the protease resistant prion protein are
major determinants of phenotypic variability in sCJD.