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1.  Appearance and Propagation of Polyglutamine-based Amyloids in Yeast 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2008;283(22):15185-15192.
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.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M802071200
PMCID: PMC2397454  PMID: 18381282
2.  Could yeast prion domains originate from polyQ/N tracts? 
Prion  2013;7(3):209-214.
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.
doi:10.4161/pri.24628
PMCID: PMC3783105  PMID: 23764835
amyloid; Hsp104; polyglutamine; polyasparagine; polyQ; polyN; prion; yeast
3.  Prion and Nonprion Amyloids 
Prion  2007;1(3):179-184.
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.
PMCID: PMC2634591  PMID: 19164899
amyloid; prion; Rnq1; Sup35; Ure2; translation termination; yeast
4.  Polyglutamine Toxicity Is Controlled by Prion Composition and Gene Dosage in Yeast 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(4):e1002634.
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.
Author Summary
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002634
PMCID: PMC3334884  PMID: 22536159
5.  Discovering putative prion sequences in complete proteomes using probabilistic representations of Q/N-rich domains 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:316.
Background
Prion proteins conform a special class among amyloids due to their ability to transmit aggregative folds. Prions are known to act as infectious agents in neurodegenerative diseases in animals, or as key elements in transcription and translation processes in yeast. It has been suggested that prions contain specific sequential domains with distinctive amino acid composition and physicochemical properties that allow them to control the switch between soluble and β-sheet aggregated states. Those prion-forming domains are low complexity segments enriched in glutamine/asparagine and depleted in charged residues and prolines. Different predictive methods have been developed to discover novel prions by either assessing the compositional bias of these stretches or estimating the propensity of protein sequences to form amyloid aggregates. However, the available algorithms hitherto lack a thorough statistical calibration against large sequence databases, which makes them unable to accurately predict prions without retrieving a large number of false positives.
Results
Here we present a computational strategy to predict putative prion-forming proteins in complete proteomes using probabilistic representations of prionogenic glutamine/asparagine rich regions. After benchmarking our predictive model against large sets of non-prionic sequences, we were able to filter out known prions with high precision and accuracy, generating prediction sets with few false positives. The algorithm was used to scan all the proteomes annotated in public databases for the presence of putative prion proteins. We analyzed the presence of putative prion proteins in all taxa, from viruses and archaea to plants and higher eukaryotes, and found that most organisms encode evolutionarily unrelated proteins with susceptibility to behave as prions.
Conclusions
To our knowledge, this is the first wide-ranging study aiming to predict prion domains in complete proteomes. Approaches of this kind could be of great importance to identify potential targets for further experimental testing and to try to reach a deeper understanding of prions’ functional and regulatory mechanisms.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-316
PMCID: PMC3654983  PMID: 23663289
Prion domain; Protein aggregation; Amyloid fibrils; Prion prediction
6.  Chemotaxis Toward Amino Acids in Escherichia coli 
Journal of Bacteriology  1972;112(1):315-326.
Escherichia coli cells are shown to be attracted to the l-amino acids alanine, asparagine, aspartate, cysteine, glutamate, glycine, methionine, serine, and threonine, but not to arginine, cystine, glutamine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, tyrosine, or valine. Bacteria grown in a proline-containing medium were, in addition, attracted to proline. Chemotaxis toward amino acids is shown to be mediated by at least two detection systems, the aspartate and serine chemoreceptors. The aspartate chemoreceptor was nonfunctional in the aspartate taxis mutant, which showed virtually no chemotaxis toward aspartate, glutamate, or methionine, and reduced taxis toward alanine, asparagine, cysteine, glycine, and serine. The serine chemoreceptor was nonfunctional in the serine taxis mutant, which was defective in taxis toward alanine, asparagine, cysteine, glycine, and serine, and which showed no chemotaxis toward threonine. Additional data concerning the specificities of the amino acid chemoreceptors with regard to amino acid analogues are also presented. Finally, two essentially nonoxidizable amino acid analogues, α-aminoisobutyrate and α-methylaspartate, are shown to be attractants for E. coli, demonstrating that extensive metabolism of attractants is not required for amino acid taxis.
PMCID: PMC251414  PMID: 4562400
7.  Interdependence of amyloid formation in yeast 
Prion  2010;4(1):45-52.
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.
PMCID: PMC2850420  PMID: 20118659
amyloid; prion; [PSI+]; huntingtin; polyglutamine; Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Sup35/eRF3
8.  Compositional Determinants of Prion Formation in Yeast▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2009;30(1):319-332.
Numerous prions (infectious proteins) have been identified in yeast that result from the conversion of soluble proteins into β-sheet-rich amyloid-like protein aggregates. Yeast prion formation is driven primarily by amino acid composition. However, yeast prion domains are generally lacking in the bulky hydrophobic residues most strongly associated with amyloid formation and are instead enriched in glutamines and asparagines. Glutamine/asparagine-rich domains are thought to be involved in both disease-related and beneficial amyloid formation. These domains are overrepresented in eukaryotic genomes, but predictive methods have not yet been developed to efficiently distinguish between prion and nonprion glutamine/asparagine-rich domains. We have developed a novel in vivo assay to quantitatively assess how composition affects prion formation. Using our results, we have defined the compositional features that promote prion formation, allowing us to accurately distinguish between glutamine/asparagine-rich domains that can form prion-like aggregates and those that cannot. Additionally, our results explain why traditional amyloid prediction algorithms fail to accurately predict amyloid formation by the glutamine/asparagine-rich yeast prion domains.
doi:10.1128/MCB.01140-09
PMCID: PMC2798286  PMID: 19884345
9.  Increasing Prion Propensity by Hydrophobic Insertion 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89286.
Prion formation involves the conversion of proteins from a soluble form into an infectious amyloid form. Most yeast prion proteins contain glutamine/asparagine-rich regions that are responsible for prion aggregation. Prion formation by these domains is driven primarily by amino acid composition, not primary sequence, yet there is a surprising disconnect between the amino acids thought to have the highest aggregation propensity and those that are actually found in yeast prion domains. Specifically, a recent mutagenic screen suggested that both aromatic and non-aromatic hydrophobic residues strongly promote prion formation. However, while aromatic residues are common in yeast prion domains, non-aromatic hydrophobic residues are strongly under-represented. Here, we directly test the effects of hydrophobic and aromatic residues on prion formation. Remarkably, we found that insertion of as few as two hydrophobic residues resulted in a multiple orders-of-magnitude increase in prion formation, and significant acceleration of in vitro amyloid formation. Thus, insertion or deletion of hydrophobic residues provides a simple tool to control the prion activity of a protein. These data, combined with bioinformatics analysis, suggest a limit on the number of strongly prion-promoting residues tolerated in glutamine/asparagine-rich domains. This limit may explain the under-representation of non-aromatic hydrophobic residues in yeast prion domains. Prion activity requires not only that a protein be able to form prion fibers, but also that these fibers be cleaved to generate new independently-segregating aggregates to offset dilution by cell division. Recent studies suggest that aromatic residues, but not non-aromatic hydrophobic residues, support the fiber cleavage step. Therefore, we propose that while both aromatic and non-aromatic hydrophobic residues promote prion formation, aromatic residues are favored in yeast prion domains because they serve a dual function, promoting both prion formation and chaperone-dependent prion propagation.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0089286
PMCID: PMC3930707  PMID: 24586661
10.  Nutritional requirements of anaerobic coryneforms. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1978;135(3):858-867.
The nutritional requirements of three species of anaerobic coryneforms and their serotypes (Propionibacterium acnes types I and II, P. avidum types I and II, and P. granulosum) were determined. Strains of P. avidum would consistently grow to a transmittance of 1 to 3% at 560 nm in a basal salts medium supplemented with glucose, pantothenate, biotin, thiamine, and 12 amino acids (alanine, arginine, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, methionine, phenylalanine, serine, tyrosine, and tryptophan). Strains of P. acnes and P. granulosum, however, failed to grow in this medium unless six additional amino acids were present (asparagine, leucine, lysine, proline, threonine, and valine). All three species grew equally well whether the 18 amino acids were supplied in the form of a casein hydrolysate supplemented with tryptophan or were added separately. Nicotinamide enhanced growth of P. acnes but had no effect on growth of P. avidum and P. granulosum. Other nutrients which were not absolute requirements, but which significantly improved growth of these species, included the purines guanine and/or adenine, Tween 80, which served as a source of oleic acid, sodium L-lactate, alpha-ketoglutarate, and pyruvate. Strains (86) comprising all five groups grew well in the defined medium, except four strains of P. acnes type II (29 tested), which failed to grow unless heme and vitamin K were added to the medium. One strain of P. granulosum (22 tested) failed to grow in any defined medium, suggesting an additional growth factor requirement.
PMCID: PMC222457  PMID: 151095
11.  THE NUTRITION OF ANIMAL TISSUES CULTIVATED IN VITRO  
1. The amino acid requirements of freshly explanted chick embryonic heart tissues cultivated in completely synthetic media have been determined, employing a nutritional depletion technique. Arginine, histidine, lysine, tyrosine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, cystine, methionine, threonine, leucine, and valine were found to be essential. Serine, isoleucine, glycine, and glutamine were found to be non-essential. Glutamic acid, aspartic acid, α-alanine, proline, and hydroxyproline were found to be inhibitory in this test system. 2. A total amino acid level of approximately 100 mg. per cent was found to be optimal and DL-amino acids were found to be non-toxic, unless used in high concentrations. 3. A comparison has been made of the amino acid requirements of various types of tissue cultures, of the chick, and of man and certain differences in these requirements have been discussed.
PMCID: PMC2224088  PMID: 13438897
12.  Glucagon-stimulating activity of 20 amino acids in dogs 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1972;51(9):2346-2351.
The effect of 20 L-amino acids upon pancreatic glucagon secretion has been studied in conscious dogs. Each amino acid was administered intravenously over a 15 min period in a dose of 1 mmole/kg of body weight to a group of four or five dogs. Pancreatic glucagon and insulin were measured by radioimmunoassay. 17 of the 20 amino acids caused a substantial increase in plasma glucagon. Asparagine had the most glucagon-stimulating activity (GSA), followed by glycine, phenylalanine, serine, aspartate, cysteine, tryptophan, alanine, glutamate, threonine, glutamine, arginine, ornithine, proline, methionine, lysine, and histidine. Only valine, leucine, and isoleucine failed to stimulate glucagon secretion, and isoleucine may have reduced it. No relationship between glucagon-stimulating activity and insulin-stimulating activity was observed. The amino acids which enter the gluconeogenic pathway as pyruvate and, which are believed to provide most of the amino acid-derived glucose, had a significantly greater GSA than the amino acids which enter as succinyl CoA or as α-ketoglutarate. However, pyruvate itself did not stimulate glucagon secretion. The R-chain structure of the amino acid did not appear to be related to its GSA, except that the aliphatic branched chain amino acids, valine, leucine, and isoleucine, were devoid of GSA.
PMCID: PMC292401  PMID: 4639019
13.  LATENT VIRAL INFECTION OF CELLS IN TISSUE CULTURE  
Mouse fibroblasts (L cells) fail to support the growth of psittacosis virus (6BC strain) if they are maintained on a medium containing only inorganic salts and glucose for 2 days prior to infection. Virus propagation can be stimulated by the addition of a synthetic medium containing amino acids, water-soluble vitamins, glutamine, glucose, and inorganic salts. By omitting single amino acids from the complete synthetic medium, tyrosine, threonine, methionine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, leucine, valine, and cysteine or cystine were found to be essential for stimulation, while lysine, arginine, histidine, hydroxyproline, proline, glutamic acid, aspartic acid, serine, alanine, and glycine were not essential. The cells on deficient media showed varying degrees of degenerative changes, but there was little correlation between ability to support psittacosis virus growth and morphologic condition of the cells. Glucose is also an essential component of the medium for viral growth, but the absence of glutamine had no effect on stimulation of virus propagation. L cell cultures maintained on media deficient in phenylalanine or tryptophan for 2 days before infection were also found to be incapable of supporting virus growth. The implications of this study in latent viral infections are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2136908  PMID: 13587846
14.  Amino Acids from Heterodera glycines 
Journal of Nematology  1969;1(3):254-259.
Amino acids emitted and extracted from surface-sterilized larvae and adults of Heterodera glycines were identified by paper chromatography and quantitatively analyzed by column chromatography. Five amino acids (alanine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, glycine and serine) were emitted by H. glycines larvae and eight others (asparagine, glutamine, leucine/isoleucine, lysine, methionine sulfoxide, threonine, tyrosine, valine/methionine) were found in extracts from crushed larvae.
In addition to the amino acids emitted or extracted from larvae, four others were emitted by adults (γ-aminobutyric acid, histidine, phenylalanine, and proline). Four different amino acids (arginine, cystathionine, hydroxyproline, and ornithine) were found only in the extract from crushed adults. Greater quantities of alanine, aspartic acid and glycine were emitted than could be detected in nematode extracts suggesting selective emission.
Subsamples of nematode populations were taken from growing plants 19, 26, 33, and 40 days after inoculation and extracted to determine whether changes in specific amino acid content correlated with aging. Proline content shifted most, increasing from 4.1% to 21.5% of the total amino acid complement from the 19th to the 40th days.
PMCID: PMC2617824  PMID: 19325686
15.  THE AMINO ACID REQUIREMENTS OF RABBIT FIBROBLASTS, STRAIN RM3-56 
Strain RM3-56 of rabbit fibroblasts was found to require arginine, cystine, glutamine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, serine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, and valine for growth in a medium containing 2 per cent dialyzed serum as the only undefined component. The requirement for serine is less specific than that of the other 13 amino acids and it is partially replaced by glycine, or alanine, or by several combinations of so called accessory amino acids. The concentrations of essential amino acids which permit maximal proliferation range from 0.005 to 0.3 mM. Cystine, glutamine, lysine, tryptophan, tyrosine, valine are toxic at concentrations of 5 mM. The rate of proliferation of RM3-56 in a medium containing all 14 essential amino acids is increased significantly by the addition of alanine and to a lesser extent by the addition of aspartic and glutamic acids and glycine. A deficiency of cystine or glutamine results in cellular degeneration within 3 to 5 days, whereas the cells remain in good condition for 2 to 3 weeks in the absence of each of the remaining 12 essential amino acids. The results obtained with RM3-56 are compared with strains HeLa, L, and U12, whose amino acid requirements have been investigated under similar conditions.
PMCID: PMC2194822  PMID: 13463271
16.  Specificity of Class II Hsp40 Sis1 in Maintenance of Yeast Prion [RNQ+] 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2003;14(3):1172-1181.
Sis1 and Ydj1, functionally distinct heat shock protein (Hsp)40 molecular chaperones of the yeast cytosol, are homologs of Hdj1 and Hdj2 of mammalian cells, respectively. Sis1 is necessary for propagation of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae prion [RNQ+]; Ydj1 is not. The ability to function in [RNQ+] maintenance has been conserved, because Hdj1 can function to maintain Rnq1 in an aggregated form in place of Sis1, but Hdj2 cannot. An extended glycine-rich region of Sis1, composed of a region rich in phenylalanine residues (G/F) and another rich in methionine residues (G/M), is critical for prion maintenance. Single amino acid alterations in a short stretch of amino acids of the G/F region of Sis1 that are absent in the otherwise highly conserved G/F region of Ydj1 cause defects in prion maintenance. However, there is some functional redundancy within the glycine-rich regions of Sis1, because a deletion of the adjacent glycine/methionine (G/M) region was somewhat defective in propagation of [RNQ+] as well. These results are consistent with a model in which the glycine-rich regions of Hsp40s contain specific determinants of function manifested through interaction with Hsp70s.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E02-09-0593
PMCID: PMC151588  PMID: 12631732
17.  Molecular Structure of Amyloid Fibrils Controls the Relationship between Fibrillar Size and Toxicity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20244.
Background
According to the prevailing view, soluble oligomers or small fibrillar fragments are considered to be the most toxic species in prion diseases. To test this hypothesis, two conformationally different amyloid states were produced from the same highly pure recombinant full-length prion protein (rPrP). The cytotoxic potential of intact fibrils and fibrillar fragments generated by sonication from these two states was tested using cultured cells.
Methodology/Principal Findings
For one amyloid state, fibril fragmentation was found to enhance its cytotoxic potential, whereas for another amyloid state formed within the same amino acid sequence, the fragmented fibrils were found to be substantially less toxic than the intact fibrils. Consistent with the previous studies, the toxic effects were more pronounced for cell cultures expressing normal isoform of the prion protein (PrPC) at high levels confirming that cytotoxicity was in part PrPC-dependent. Silencing of PrPC expression by small hairpin RNAs designed to silence expression of human PrPC (shRNA-PrPC) deminished the deleterious effects of the two amyloid states to a different extent, suggesting that the role of PrPC-mediated and PrPC-independent mechanisms depends on the structure of the aggregates.
Conclusions/Significance
This work provides a direct illustration that the relationship between an amyloid's physical dimension and its toxic potential is not unidirectional but is controlled by the molecular structure of prion protein (PrP) molecules within aggregated states. Depending on the structure, a decrease in size of amyloid fibrils can either enhance or abolish their cytotoxic effect. Regardless of the molecular structure or size of PrP aggregates, silencing of PrPC expression can be exploited to reduce their deleterious effects.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0020244
PMCID: PMC3098877  PMID: 21625461
18.  Nitrogen Sparing Induced by a Mixture of Essential Amino Acids Given Chiefly as Their Keto-Analogues during Prolonged Starvation in Obese Subjects 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1974;54(4):974-980.
11 normal obese subjects were fasted for 33 days. In five, who served as controls, urine urea nitrogen excretion remained constant for 2 wk thereafter. The other six were given seven daily infusions containing 6-8 mmol each of the α-keto-analogues of valine, leucine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, and methionine (as sodium salts) plus 3-4 mmol each of the remaining essential amino acids (lysine, threonine, tryptophan, and histidine). Rapid amination of the infused ketoacids occurred, as indicated by significant increases in plasma concentrations of valine, leucine, isoleucine, alloisoleucine, phenylalanine, and methionine. Glutamine, glycine, serine, glutamate, and taurine fell significantly. Blood glucose, ketone bodies, plasma free fatty acids, and serum immunoreactive insulin concentrations were unaltered. Urine urea nitrogen fell from 1.46 to 0.89 g/day on the last day of infusions; 5 days later it was still lower (0.63 g/day) and in two subjects studied for 9 and 17 days postinfusion it remained below preinfusion control values. Urine ammonia, creatinine, and uric acid were unaltered. Nitrogen balance became less negative during and after infusions. The results indicate that this mixture of essential amino acids and their keto-analogues facilitates nitrogen sparing during prolonged starvation, in part by conversion of the ketoacids to amino acids and in part by altering mechanisms of nitrogen conservation. The latter effect persists after the ketoacids are metabolized.
PMCID: PMC301638  PMID: 4430727
19.  Biological Roles of Prion Domains 
Prion  2007;1(4):228-235.
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.
PMCID: PMC2634536  PMID: 19172114
amyloid; amyloidosis; epigenetic; evolution; inheritance; mammals; misfolding; protein; stress; yeast
20.  Mechanism of Prion Propagation: Amyloid Growth Occurs by Monomer Addition 
PLoS Biology  2004;2(10):e321.
Abundant nonfibrillar oligomeric intermediates are a common feature of amyloid formation, and these oligomers, rather than the final fibers, have been suggested to be the toxic species in some amyloid diseases. Whether such oligomers are critical intermediates for fiber assembly or form in an alternate, potentially separable pathway, however, remains unclear. Here we study the polymerization of the amyloidogenic yeast prion protein Sup35. Rapid polymerization occurs in the absence of observable intermediates, and both targeted kinetic and direct single-molecule fluorescence measurements indicate that fibers grow by monomer addition. A three-step model (nucleation, monomer addition, and fiber fragmentation) accurately accounts for the distinctive kinetic features of amyloid formation, including weak concentration dependence, acceleration by agitation, and sigmoidal shape of the polymerization time course. Thus, amyloid growth can occur by monomer addition in a reaction distinct from and competitive with formation of potentially toxic oligomeric intermediates.
Polymerization of the amyloidogenic yeast prion protein Sup35 occurs by monomer addition in a reaction distinct from formation of potentially toxic oligomeric intermediates
doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020321
PMCID: PMC517824  PMID: 15383837
21.  Differences in prion strain conformations result from nonnative interactions in a nucleus 
Nature Chemical Biology  2010;6(3):225-230.
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.
doi:10.1038/nchembio.306
PMCID: PMC3277852  PMID: 20081853
22.  Receptors for chemotaxis in Bacillus subtilis. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1975;123(3):824-827.
At least three receptors for chemotaxis toward L-amino acids in Bacillus subtilis could be found with the aid of taxis competition experiments. They are called the asparagine receptor, which detects asparagine and glutamine, the isoleucine receptor, which detects isoleucine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine, serine, threonine, cysteine, and methionine, and the alanine receptor, which detects alanine and proline. Histidine and glycine could not be assigned to one of these receptors. Cysteine and methionine were found to be general inhibitors of chemotaxis and serine was found to be a general stimulator of chemotaxis. Some structural analogues of amino acids were tested for chemotactic activity. The chemotactic activity of B. subtilis is compared with that of Escherichia coli.
PMCID: PMC235802  PMID: 808536
23.  Scrambled Prion Domains Form Prions and Amyloid† 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(16):7206-7213.
The [URE3] prion of Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a self-propagating amyloid form of Ure2p. The amino-terminal prion domain of Ure2p is necessary and sufficient for prion formation and has a high glutamine (Q) and asparagine (N) content. Such Q/N-rich domains are found in two other yeast prion proteins, Sup35p and Rnq1p, although none of the many other yeast Q/N-rich domain proteins have yet been found to be prions. To examine the role of amino acid sequence composition in prion formation, we used Ure2p as a model system and generated five Ure2p variants in which the order of the amino acids in the prion domain was randomly shuffled while keeping the amino acid composition and C-terminal domain unchanged. Surprisingly, all five formed prions in vivo, with a range of frequencies and stabilities, and the prion domains of all five readily formed amyloid fibers in vitro. Although it is unclear whether other amyloid-forming proteins would be equally resistant to scrambling, this result demonstrates that [URE3] formation is driven primarily by amino acid composition, largely independent of primary sequence.
doi:10.1128/MCB.24.16.7206-7213.2004
PMCID: PMC479727  PMID: 15282319
24.  AMINO ACIDS AS PROTECTIVE COMPOUNDS IN ULTRAVIOLET-IRRADIATED hANSENULA WINGEI 
Journal of Bacteriology  1964;88(4):893-895.
Hunt, D. E. (Charles V. Chapin Hospital, Providence, R.I.). Amino acids as protective compounds in ultraviolet-irradiated Hansenula wingei. J. Bacteriol. 88:893–895. 1964.—”Prefeeding” Hansenula wingei with small concentrations of either tryptophan, cystine, tyrosine, phenylalanine, leucine, cysteine, threonine, isoleucine, ethionine, norvaline, or histidine protected this yeast against inactivating ultraviolet treatment. ”Prefeeding” with methionine, proline, or alanine conferred little if any protection, and valine or serine caused this organism to be more sensitive to ultraviolet inactivation. A direct relation exists between the concentration of the protective amino acids and the number of surviving cells. The heterocyclic and aromatic amino acids are generally more protective than the corresponding aliphatic compounds. The diversity of the compounds as well as quantitative differences in the protection afforded by them suggest that they have different modes of action.
PMCID: PMC314829  PMID: 14219051
25.  AMINO ACID COMPOSITION OF HIGHLY PURIFIED VIRAL PARTICLES OF INFLUENZA A AND B 
Microbiological assays for amino acids were made on hydrolysates of four to five highly purified preparations each of influenza A virus (PR8 strain) and influenza B virus (Lee strain). The results of the assays indicated that these strains of influenza virus contain approximately the same amounts of alanine, aspartic acid, glycine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, phenylalanine, proline, serine, threonine, and valine. However, significant differences were found in the values for arginine, glutamic acid, lysine, tryptophane, and tyrosine. It is believed that these differences may provide, at least in part, a chemical explanation for some of the differing properties of the PR8 and Lee strains of influenza viruses.
PMCID: PMC2135717  PMID: 19871660

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