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.
The [PSI+] prion is the aggregated self-propagating form of the Sup35 protein from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Aggregates of Sup35 in [PSI+] cells exist in different heritable conformations, called “variants,” and they are composed of detergent-resistant Sup35 polymers, which may be closely associated with themselves, other proteins, or both. Here, we report that disassembly of the aggregates into individual Sup35 polymers and non-Sup35 components increases their infectivity while retaining their variant specificity, showing that variant-specific [PSI+] infection can be transmitted by Sup35 polymers alone. Morphological analysis revealed that Sup35 isolated from [PSI+] yeast has the appearance of short barrels, and bundles, which seem to be composed of barrels. We show that the major components of two different variants of [PSI+] are interacting infectious Sup35 polymers and Ssa1/2. Using a candidate approach, we detected Hsp104, Ssb1/2, Sis1, Sse1, Ydj1, and Sla2 among minor components of the aggregates. We demonstrate that Ssa1/2 efficiently binds to the prion domain of Sup35 in [PSI+] cells, but that it interacts poorly with the nonaggregated Sup35 found in [psi−] cells. Hsp104, Sis1, and Sse1 interact preferentially with the prion versus nonprion form of Sup35, whereas Sla2 and Ssb1/2 interact with both forms of Sup35 with similar efficiency.
Yeast prion determinants are related to polymerization of some proteins into amyloid-like fibers. The [PSI+] determinant reflects polymerization of the Sup35 protein. Fragmentation of prion polymers by the Hsp104 chaperone represents a key step of the prion replication cycle. The frequency of fragmentation varies depending on the structure of the prion polymers and defines variation in the prion phenotypes, e.g., the suppressor strength of [PSI+] and stability of its inheritance. Besides [PSI+], overproduction of Sup35 can produce nonheritable phenotypically silent Sup35 amyloid-like polymers. These polymers are fragmented poorly and are present due to efficient seeding with the Rnq1 prion polymers, which occurs by several orders of magnitude more frequently than seeding of [PSI+] appearance. Such Sup35 polymers resemble human nonprion amyloids by their nonheritability, mode of appearance and increased size. Thus, a single protein, Sup35, can model both prion and nonprion amyloids. In yeast, these phenomena are distinguished by the frequency of polymer fragmentation. We argue that in mammals the fragmentation frequency also represents a key factor defining differing properties of prion and nonprion amyloids, including infectivity. By analogy with the Rnq1 seeding of nonheritable Sup35 polymers, the “species barrier” in prion transmission may be due to seeding by heterologous prion of nontransmissible type of amyloid, rather than due to the lack of seeding.
amyloid; prion; Rnq1; Sup35; Ure2; translation termination; yeast
Polyglutamine expansion is responsible for several neurodegenerative disorders, among which Huntington disease is the most well-known. Studies in the yeast model demonstrated that both aggregation and toxicity of a huntingtin (htt) protein with an expanded polyglutamine region strictly depend on the presence of the prion form of Rnq1 protein ([PIN+]), which has a glutamine/asparagine-rich domain.
Here, we showed that aggregation and toxicity of mutant htt depended on [PIN+] only quantitatively: the presence of [PIN+] elevated the toxicity and the levels of htt detergent-insoluble polymers. In cells lacking [PIN+], toxicity of mutant htt was due to the polymerization and inactivation of the essential glutamine/asparagine-rich Sup35 protein and related inactivation of another essential protein, Sup45, most probably via its sequestration into Sup35 aggregates. However, inhibition of growth of [PIN+] cells depended on Sup35/Sup45 depletion only partially, suggesting that there are other sources of mutant htt toxicity in yeast.
The obtained data suggest that induced polymerization of essential glutamine/asparagine-rich proteins and related sequestration of other proteins which interact with these polymers represent an essential source of htt toxicity.
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 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
Polyglutamine expansion causes diseases in humans and other mammals. One example is Huntington's disease. Fragments of human huntingtin protein having an expanded polyglutamine stretch form aggregates and cause cytotoxicity in yeast cells bearing endogenous QN-rich proteins in the aggregated (prion) form. Attachment of the proline(P)-rich region targets polyglutamines to the large perinuclear deposit (aggresome). Aggresome formation ameliorates polyglutamine cytotoxicity in cells containing only the prion form of Rnq1 protein. Here we show that expanded polyglutamines both with (poly-QP) or without (poly-Q) a P-rich stretch remain toxic in the presence of the prion form of translation termination (release) factor Sup35 (eRF3). A Sup35 derivative that lacks the QN-rich domain and is unable to be incorporated into aggregates counteracts cytotoxicity, suggesting that toxicity is due to Sup35 sequestration. Increase in the levels of another release factor, Sup45 (eRF1), due to either disomy by chromosome II containing the SUP45 gene or to introduction of the SUP45-bearing plasmid counteracts poly-Q or poly-QP toxicity in the presence of the Sup35 prion. Protein analysis confirms that polyglutamines alter aggregation patterns of Sup35 and promote aggregation of Sup45, while excess Sup45 counteracts these effects. Our data show that one and the same mode of polyglutamine aggregation could be cytoprotective or cytotoxic, depending on the composition of other aggregates in a eukaryotic cell, and demonstrate that other aggregates expand the range of proteins that are susceptible to sequestration by polyglutamines.
Polyglutamine diseases, including Huntington disease, are associated with expansions of polyglutamine tracts, resulting in aggregation of respective proteins. The severity of Huntington disease is controlled by both DNA and non–DNA factors. Mechanisms of such a control are poorly understood. Polyglutamine may sequester other cellular proteins; however, different experimental models have pointed to different sequestered proteins. By using a yeast model, we demonstrate that the mechanism of polyglutamine toxicity is driven by the composition of other (endogenous) aggregates (for example, yeast prions) present in a eukaryotic cell. Although these aggregates do not necessarily cause significant toxicity on their own, they serve as mediators in protein sequestration and therefore determine which specific proteins are to be sequestered by polyglutamines. We also show that polyglutamine deposition into an aggresome, a perinuclear compartment thought to be cytoprotective, fails to ameliorate cytotoxicity in cells with certain compositions of pre-existing aggregates. Finally, we demonstrate that an increase in the dosage of a sequestered protein due to aneuploidy by a chromosome carrying a respective gene may rescue cytotoxicity. Our data shed light on genetic and epigenetic mechanisms modulating polyglutamine cytotoxicity and establish a new approach for identifying potential therapeutic targets through characterization of the endogenous aggregated proteins.
In vivo amyloid formation is a widespread phenomenon in eukaryotes. Self-perpetuating amyloids provide a basis for the infectious or heritable protein isoforms (prions). At least for some proteins, amyloid-forming potential is conserved in evolution despite divergence of the amino acid (aa) sequences. In some cases, prion formation certainly represents a pathological process leading to a disease. However, there are several scenarios in which prions and other amyloids or amyloid-like aggregates are either shown or suspected to perform positive biological functions. Proven examples include self/nonself recognition, stress defense and scaffolding of other (functional) polymers. The role of prion-like phenomena in memory has been hypothesized. As an additional mechanism of heritable change, prion formation may in principle contribute to heritable variability at the population level. Moreover, it is possible that amyloid-based prions represent by-products of the transient feedback regulatory circuits, as normal cellular function of at least some prion proteins is decreased in the prion state.
amyloid; amyloidosis; epigenetic; evolution; inheritance; mammals; misfolding; protein; stress; yeast
Many proteins can misfold into β-sheet-rich, self-seeding polymers (amyloids). Prions are exceptional among such aggregates in that they are also infectious. In fungi, prions are not pathogenic but rather act as epigenetic regulators of cell physiology, providing a powerful model for studying the mechanism of prion replication. We used prion-forming domains from two budding yeast proteins (Sup35p and New1p) to examine the requirements for prion formation and inheritance. In both proteins, a glutamine/asparagine-rich (Q/N-rich) tract mediates sequence-specific aggregation, while an adjacent motif, the oligopeptide repeat, is required for the replication and stable inheritance of these aggregates. Our findings help to explain why although Q/N-rich proteins are relatively common, few form heritable aggregates: prion inheritance requires both an aggregation sequence responsible for self-seeded growth and an element that permits chaperone-dependent replication of the aggregate. Using this knowledge, we have designed novel artificial prions by fusing the replication element of Sup35p to aggregation-prone sequences from other proteins, including pathogenically expanded polyglutamine.
Artificial prions - infectious, misfolded proteins - can be created by fusing the replication element of one prion to aggregation sequences from another
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
Self-perpetuating protein aggregates transmit prion diseases in mammals and heritable traits in yeast. De novo prion formation can be induced by transient overproduction of the corresponding prion-forming protein or its prion domain. Here, we demonstrate that the yeast prion protein Sup35 interacts with various proteins of the actin cortical cytoskeleton that are involved in endocytosis. Sup35-derived aggregates, generated in the process of prion induction, are associated with the components of the endocytic/vacuolar pathway. Mutational alterations of the cortical actin cytoskeleton decrease aggregation of overproduced Sup35 and de novo prion induction and increase prion-related toxicity in yeast. Deletion of the gene coding for the actin assembly protein Sla2 is lethal in cells containing the prion isoforms of both Sup35 and Rnq1 proteins simultaneously. Our data are consistent with a model in which cytoskeletal structures provide a scaffold for generation of large aggregates, resembling mammalian aggresomes. These aggregates promote prion formation. Moreover, it appears that the actin cytoskeleton also plays a certain role in counteracting the toxicity of the overproduced potentially aggregating proteins.
Prions are self-propagating protein conformations. Transmission of the prion state between non-identical proteins, e.g. between homologous proteins from different species, is frequently inefficient. Transmission barriers are attributed to sequence differences in prion proteins, but their underlying mechanisms are not clear. Here we use a yeast Rnq1/[PIN+]-based experimental system to explore the nature of transmission barriers. [PIN+], the prion form of Rnq1, is common in wild and laboratory yeast strains, where it facilitates the appearance of other prions. Rnq1's prion domain carries four discrete QN-rich regions. We start by showing that Rnq1 encompasses multiple prion determinants that can independently drive amyloid formation in vitro and transmit the [PIN+] prion state in vivo. Subsequent analysis of [PIN+] transmission between Rnq1 fragments with different sets of prion determinants established that (i) one common QN-rich region is required and usually sufficient for the transmission; (ii) despite identical sequences of the common QNs, such transmissions are impeded by barriers of different strength. Existence of transmission barriers in the absence of amino acid mismatches in transmitting regions indicates that in complex prion domains multiple prion determinants act cooperatively to attain the final prion conformation, and reveals transmission barriers determined by this cooperative fold.
Prions, self-propagating protein conformations and causative agents of lethal neurodegenerative diseases, present a serious public health threat: they can arise sporadically and then spread by transmission to the same, as well as other, species. The risk of infecting humans with prions originating in wild and domestic animals is determined by the so-called transmission barriers. These barriers are attributed to differences in prion proteins from different species, but their underlying mechanisms are not clear. Recent findings that the prion state is transmitted through the interaction between short transmitting regions within prion domains revealed one type of transmission barrier, where productive templating is impeded by non-matching amino acids within transmitting regions. Here we present studies of the prion domain of the [PIN+]-forming protein, Rnq1, and describe a distinct type of transmission barrier not involving individual amino acid mismatches in the transmitting regions. Rnq1's prion domain is complex and encompasses four regions that can independently transmit the prion state. Our data suggest that multiple prion determinants of a complex prion domain act cooperatively to attain the prion conformation, and transmission barriers occur between protein variants that cannot form the same higher order structure, despite the identity of the region(s) driving the transmission.
The glutamine/asparagine (Q/N)-rich yeast prion protein Sup35 has a low intrinsic propensity to spontaneously self-assemble into ordered, β-sheet-rich amyloid fibrils. In yeast cells, de novo formation of Sup35 aggregates is greatly facilitated by high protein concentrations and the presence of preformed Q/N-rich protein aggregates that template Sup35 polymerization. Here, we have investigated whether aggregation-promoting polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts can stimulate the de novo formation of ordered Sup35 protein aggregates in the absence of Q/N-rich yeast prions. Fusion proteins with polyQ tracts of different lengths were produced and their ability to spontaneously self-assemble into amlyloid structures was analyzed using in vitro and in vivo model systems. We found that Sup35 fusions with pathogenic (≥54 glutamines), as opposed to non-pathogenic (19 glutamines) polyQ tracts efficiently form seeding-competent protein aggregates. Strikingly, polyQ-mediated de novo assembly of Sup35 protein aggregates in yeast cells was independent of pre-existing Q/N-rich protein aggregates. This indicates that increasing the content of aggregation-promoting sequences enhances the tendency of Sup35 to spontaneously self-assemble into insoluble protein aggregates. A similar result was obtained when pathogenic polyQ tracts were linked to the yeast prion protein Rnq1, demonstrating that polyQ sequences are generic inducers of amyloidogenesis. In conclusion, long polyQ sequences are powerful molecular tools that allow the efficient production of seeding-competent amyloid structures.
Prions in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae show a surprising degree of interdependence. Specifically, the rate of appearance of the [PSI+] prion, which is thought to be an important mechanism to respond to changing environmental conditions, is greatly increased by another prion, [RNQ+]. While the domains of the Rnq1 protein important for formation of the [RNQ+] prion have been defined, the specific residues required remain unknown. Furthermore, residues in Rnq1p that mediate the interaction between [PSI+] and [RNQ+] are unknown. To identify residues important for prion protein interactions, we created a mutant library of Rnq1p clones in the context of a chimera that serves as proxy for [RNQ+] aggregates. Several of the mutant Rnq1p proteins showed structural differences in the aggregates they formed, as revealed by SDD-AGE. Additionally, several of the mutants showed a striking defect in the ability to promote [PSI+] induction. These data indicate that the mutants formed strain variants of [RNQ+]. By dissecting the mutations in the isolated clones, we found five single mutations that caused [PSI+] induction defects, S223P, F184S, Q239R, N297S, and Q298R. These are the first specific mutations characterized in Rnq1p that alter [PSI+] induction. Additionally, we have identified a region important for the propagation of certain strain variants of [RNQ+]. Deletion of this region (amino acids 284–317) affected propagation of the high variant but not medium or low [RNQ+] strain variants. Furthermore, when the low [RNQ+] strain variant was propagated by Δ284–317, [PSI+] induction was greatly increased. These data suggest that this region is important in defining the structure of the [RNQ+] strain variants. These data are consistent with a model of [PSI+] induction caused by physical interactions between Rnq1p and Sup35p.
Self-perpetuating amyloid-based protein isoforms (prions) transmit neurodegenerative diseases in mammals and phenotypic traits in yeast. Although mechanisms that control species-specificity of prion transmission are poorly understood, studies of closely related orthologs of yeast prion protein Sup35 demonstrate that cross-species prion transmission is modulated by both genetic (specific sequence elements) and epigenetic (prion variants, or “strains”) factors. Depending on the prion variant, the species barrier could be controlled at the level of either heterologous coaggregation or conversion of the aggregate-associated heterologous protein into a prion polymer. Sequence divergence influences cross-species transmission of different prion variants in opposing ways. The ability of a heterologous prion domain to either faithfully reproduce or irreversibly switch the variant-specific prion patterns depends on both sequence divergence and the prion variant. Sequence variations within different modules of prion domains contribute to transmission barriers in different cross-species combinations. Individual amino acid substitutions within short amyloidogenic stretches drastically alter patterns of cross-species prion conversion, implicating these stretches as major determinants of species specificity.
amyloid; Saccharomyces bayanus; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Saccharomyces paradoxus; yeast
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.
Onset of proteotoxicity is linked to change in the subcellular location of proteins that cause misfolding diseases. Yet, factors that drive changes in disease protein localization and the impact of residence in new surroundings on proteotoxicity are not entirely clear. To address these issues, we examined aspects of proteotoxicity caused by Rnq1-green fluorescent protein (GFP) and a huntingtin's protein exon-1 fragment with an expanded polyglutamine tract (Htt-103Q), which is dependent upon the intracellular presence of [RNQ+] prions. Increasing heat-shock protein 40 chaperone activity before Rnq1-GFP expression, shifted Rnq1-GFP aggregation from the cytosol to the nucleus. Assembly of Rnq1-GFP into benign amyloid-like aggregates was more efficient in the nucleus than cytosol and nuclear accumulation of Rnq1-GFP correlated with reduced toxicity. [RNQ+] prions were found to form stable complexes with Htt-103Q, and nuclear Rnq1-GFP aggregates were capable of sequestering Htt-103Q in the nucleus. On accumulation in the nucleus, conversion of Htt-103Q into SDS-resistant aggregates was dramatically reduced and Htt-103Q toxicity was exacerbated. Alterations in activity of molecular chaperones, the localization of intracellular interaction partners, or both can impact the cellular location of disease proteins. This, in turn, impacts proteotoxicity because the assembly of proteins to a benign state occurs with different efficiencies in the cytosol and nucleus.
Many amyloid inhibitors resemble molecules that form chemical aggregates, which are known to inhibit many proteins. Eight known chemical aggregators inhibited amyloid formation of the yeast and mouse prion proteins Sup35 and recMoPrP in a manner characteristic of colloidal inhibition. Similarly, three known anti-amyloid molecules inhibited β-lactamase in a detergent-dependent manner, which suggests that they too form colloidal aggregates. The colloids localized to preformed fibers and prevented new fiber formation in electron micrographs. They also blocked infection of yeast cells with Sup35 prions, which suggests that colloidal inhibition may be relevant in more biological milieus.
A significant body of evidence shows that polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts are important for various biological functions. The characteristic polymorphism of polyQ length is thought to play an important role in the adaptation of organisms to their environment. However, proteins with expanded polyQ are prone to form amyloids, which cause diseases in humans and animals and toxicity in yeast. Saccharomyces cerevisiae contain at least 8 proteins which can form heritable amyloids, called prions, and most of them are proteins with glutamine- and asparagine-enriched domains. Yeast prion amyloids are susceptible to fragmentation by the protein disaggregase Hsp104, which allows them to propagate and be transmitted to daughter cells during cell divisions. We have previously shown that interspersion of polyQ domains with some non-glutamine residues stimulates fragmentation of polyQ amyloids in yeast and that yeast prion domains are often enriched in one of these residues. These findings indicate that yeast prion domains may have derived from polyQ tracts via accumulation and amplification of mutations. The same hypothesis may be applied to polyasparagine (polyN) tracts, since they display similar properties to polyQ, such as length polymorphism, amyloid formation and toxicity. We propose that mutations in polyQ/N may be favored by natural selection thus making prion domains likely by-products of the evolution of polyQ/N.
amyloid; Hsp104; polyglutamine; polyasparagine; polyQ; polyN; prion; yeast
Amyloids are fibrillar protein aggregates resulting from non-covalent autocatalytic polymerization of various structurally and functionally unrelated proteins. Previously we have selected DNA aptamers, which bind specifically to the in vitro assembled amyloid fibrils of the yeast prionogenic protein Sup35. Here we show that such DNA aptamers can be used to detect SDS-insoluble amyloid aggregates of the Sup35 protein, and of some other amyloidogenic proteins, including mouse PrP, formed in yeast cells. The obtained data suggest that these aggregates and the Sup35 amyloid fibrils assembled in vitro possess common conformational epitopes recognizable by aptamers. The described DNA aptamers may be used for detection of various amyloid aggregates in yeast and, presumably, other organisms.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Sup35/eRF3; [PSI+]; amyloid; aptamer; huntingtin; polyglutamine; prion
The formation of amyloid-like fibrils is a hallmark of several neurodegenerative diseases. How the assembly of amyloid-like fibrils contributes to cell death is a major unresolved question in the field. The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a powerful model organism to study basic mechanisms for how cellular pathways regulate amyloid assembly and proteotoxicity. For example, studies of the amyloidogenic yeast prion [RNQ+] have revealed novel roles by which molecular chaperones protect cells from the accumulation of cytotoxic protein species. In budding yeast there are a variety of cellular assays that can be employed to analyze the assembly of amyloid-like aggregates and mechanistically dissect how cellular pathways influence proteotoxicity. In this review, we describe several assays that are routinely used to investigate aggregation and toxicity of the [RNQ+] prion in yeast.
amyloid; Rnq1; prion; molecular chaperone; yeast; proteotoxicity
Yeast prions are self-perpetuating QN-rich amyloids, that control heritable traits and serve as a model for mammalian amyloidoses. De novo prion formation by overproduced prion protein is facilitated by other aggregated QN-rich protein(s), and is influenced by alterations of protein homeostasis. Here we explore the mechanism by which the Las17-binding protein Lsb2 (Pin3) promotes conversion of the translation termination factor Sup35 into its prion form [PSI+]. We show that Lsb2 localizes with some Sup35 aggregates and that Lsb2 is a short-lived protein whose levels are controlled via the ubiquitin-proteasome system and are dramatically increased by stress. Loss of Lsb2 decreases stability of [PSI+] after brief heat shock. Mutations interfering with Lsb2 ubiquitination increase prion induction, while a mutation eliminating association of Lsb2 with the actin cytoskeleton blocks its aggregation and prion–inducing ability. These findings directly implicate the UPS and actin cytoskeleton in regulating prions via a stress-inducible QN-rich protein.
Amyloid aggregation is associated with numerous protein misfolding pathologies and underlies the infectious properties of prions, which are conformationally self-templating proteins that are thought to have beneficial roles in lower organisms. Amyloids have been notoriously difficult to study due to their insolubility and structural heterogeneity. However, resolution of amyloid polymers based on size and detergent insolubility has been made possible by Semi-Denaturing Detergent-Agarose Gel Electrophoresis (SDD-AGE). This technique is finding widespread use for the detection and characterization of amyloid conformational variants. Here, we demonstrate an adaptation of this technique that facilitates its use in large-scale applications, such as screens for novel prions and other amyloidogenic proteins. The new SDD-AGE method uses capillary transfer for greater reliability and ease of use, and allows any sized gel to be accomodated. Thus, a large number of samples, prepared from cells or purified proteins, can be processed simultaneously for the presence of SDS-insoluble conformers of tagged proteins.
Aggregation-prone proteins often misfold into multiple distinct amyloid conformations dictating their different physiological impacts. Although amyloid formation is triggered by a transient nucleus, the mechanism of how an initial nucleus is formed and allows the protein to form a specific amyloid conformation remains unclear. Here we show that, prior to fiber formation, the prion domain (Sup35NM, consisting of residues 1-254) of yeast prion Sup35, the [PSI+] protein determinant, forms oligomers in a temperature-dependent, reversible manner. Mutational and biophysical analyses revealed that “nonnative” aromatic interactions outside of the amyloid core drive oligomer formation by bringing different Sup35NM monomers together, which specifically leads to the formation of highly infectious strain conformations with more limited amyloid cores. Thus, transient nonnative interactions in the initial nucleus play pivotal roles in determining the diversity of amyloid conformations and resulting prion strain phenotypes.
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.