The evolutionary origins of vertebrate prion genes had remained elusive until recently when multiple lines of evidence converged to the proposition that members of the prion gene family represent an ancient branch of a larger family of ZIP metal ion transporters.1 A follow-up investigation which explored the mechanism of evolution in more detail led to the surprising conclusion that the emergence of the prion founder gene likely involved the reverse transcription of a spliced transcript of a LIV-1 ZIP predecessor gene.2 The objective of this perspective is to discuss the possible significance of this reunion of ZIP and prion gene subfamilies for understanding the biology of the prion protein in health and disease. While a recent review article broadly introduced this area of research,3 the emphasis here is to comment on some of the more pertinent concepts, experimental paradigms, ongoing developments and challenges.
evolution; prion; retrogene; zinc; ZIP metal ion transporter
The aggregation of PrPSc is thought to be crucial for the neuropathology of prion diseases. A growing body of evidence demonstrates that the perturbation of the microtubule network contributes to PrPSc-mediated neurodegeneration. Microtubules are a component of the cytoskeleton and play a central role in organelle transport, axonal elongation and cellular architecture in neurons. The polymerization, stabilization, arrangement of microtubules can be modulated by interactions with a series of microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs). Recent studies have proposed the abnormal alterations of two major microtubule-associated proteins, tau and MAP2, in the brain tissues of naturally occurred and experimental human and animal prion diseases. Increased total tau protein and hyperphosphorylation of tau at multiple residues are observed at the terminal stage of prion disease. The abnormal aggregation of tau protein disturbs its binding ability to microtubules and affects the microtubule dynamic. Significantly downregulated MAP2 is detected in the brain tissues of scrapie-infected hamsters and PrP106–126 treated cells, which corresponds well with the remarkably low levels of tubulin. In conclusion, dysfunction of MAP2/tau family leads to disruption of microtubule structure and impairment of axonal transport, and eventually triggers apoptosis in neurons, which becomes an essential pathway for prion to induce the neuropathology.
prion; microtubule-associated proteins; MAP2; tau; dysfunction
Precisely how the accumulation of PrPSc causes the neuronal degeneration that leads to the clinical symptoms of prion diseases is poorly understood. Our recent paper showed that the clustering of specific glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchors attached to PrP proteins triggered synapse damage in cultured neurons. First, we demonstrated that small, soluble PrPSc oligomers caused synapse damage via a GPI-dependent process. Our hypothesis, that the clustering of specific GPIs caused synapse damage, was supported by observations that cross-linkage of PrPC, either chemically or by monoclonal antibodies, also triggered synapse damage. Synapse damage was preceded by an increase in the cholesterol content of synapses and activation of cytoplasmic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2). The presence of a terminal sialic acid moiety, a rare modification of mammalian GPI anchors, was essential in the activation of cPLA2 and synapse damage induced by cross-linked PrPC. We conclude that the sialic acid modifies local membrane microenvironments (rafts) surrounding clustered PrP molecules resulting in aberrant activation of cPLA2 and synapse damage. A recent observation, that toxic amyloid-β assemblies cross-link PrPC, suggests that synapse damage in prion and Alzheimer diseases is mediated via a common molecular mechanism, and raises the possibility that the pharmacological modification of GPI anchors might constitute a novel therapeutic approach to these diseases.
cholesterol; glycosylphosphatidylinositol; phospholipase A2; prion; rafts
The cellular form of prion protein (PrPc) is a highly conserved cell surface GPI-anchored glycoprotein that was identified in cholesterol-enriched, detergent-resistant microdomains, named “rafts.” The association with these specialized portions of the cell plasma membrane is required for conversion of PrPc to the transmissible spongiform encephalopathy-associated protease-resistant isoform. Usually, PrPc is reported to be a plasma membrane protein, however several studies have revealed PrPc as an interacting protein mainly with the membrane/organelles, as well as with cytoskeleton network. Recent lines of evidence indicated its association with ER lipid raft-like microdomains for a correct folding of PrPc, as well as for the export of the protein to the Golgi and proper glycosylation. During cell apoptosis, PrPc can undergo intracellular re-localization, via ER-mitochondria associated membranes (MAM) and microtubular network, to mitochondrial raft-like microdomains, where it induced the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential and citochrome c release, after a contained raise of calcium concentration. We suggest that PrPc may play a role in the multimolecular signaling complex associated with cell apoptosis
Lipid rafts and their components may, thus, be investigated as pharmacological targets of interest, introducing a novel and innovative task in modern pharmacology, i.e., the development of glycosphingolipid targeted drugs.
rafts; microdomains; mitochondria; gangliosides; apoptosis; scrambling; prion protein
Prion disease research has opened up the “black-box” of neurodegeneration, defining a key role for protein misfolding wherein a predominantly alpha-helical precursor protein, PrPC, is converted to a disease-associated, β-sheet enriched isoform called PrPSc. In Alzheimer disease (AD) the Aβ peptide derived from the β-amyloid precuror protein APP folds in β-sheet amyloid. Early thoughts along the lines of overlap may have been on target,1 but were eclipsed by a simultaneous (but now anachronistic) controversy over the role of PrPSc in prion diseases.2,3 Nonetheless, as prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) are themselves rare and can include an overt infectious mode of transmission, and as familial prion diseases and familial AD involve different genes, an observer might reasonably have concluded that prion research could occasionally catalyze ideas in AD, but could never provide concrete overlaps at the mechanistic level. Surprisingly, albeit a decade or three down the road, several prion/AD commonalities can be found within the contemporary literature. One important prion/AD overlap concerns seeded spread of Aβ aggregates by intracerebral inoculation much like prions,4 and, with a neuron-to-neuron ‘spreading’ also reported for pathologic forms of other misfolded proteins, Tau5,6 and α-synuclein in the case of Parkinson Disease.7,8 The concept of seeded spread has been discussed extensively elsewhere, sometimes under the rubric of “prionoids”9, and lies outside the scope of this particular review where we will focus upon PrPC. From this point the story can now be subdivided into four strands of investigation: (1) pathologic effects of Aβ can be mediated by binding to PrPC,10 (2) the positioning of endoproteolytic processing events of APP by pathologic (β-cleavage + γ-cleavage) and non-pathologic (α-cleavage + γ-cleavage) secretase pathways is paralleled by seemingly analogous α- and β-like cleavage of PrPC (Fig. 1) (3) similar lipid raft environments for PrPC and APP processing machinery,11-13 and perhaps in consequence, overlaps in repertoire of the PrPC and APP protein interactors (“interactomes”),14,15 and (4) rare kindreds with mixed AD and prion pathologies.16 Here we discuss confounds, consensus and conflict associated with parameters that apply to these experimental settings.
APP; Alzheimer disease; BSE; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; GPI-anchored glycoprotein; amyloid; prionoids; prions; protein misfolding
Aberrant activation of Cdk5 has been implicated in the process of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). We recently reported that S-nitrosylation of Cdk5 (forming SNO-Cdk5) at specific cysteine residues results in excessive activation of Cdk5, contributing to mitochondrial dysfunction, synaptic damage, and neuronal cell death in models of AD. Furthermore, SNO-Cdk5 acts as a nascent S-nitrosylase, transnitrosylating the mitochondrial fission protein Drp1 and enhancing excessive mitochondrial fission in dendritic spines. However, a molecular mechanism that leads to the formation of SNO-Cdk5 in neuronal cells remained obscure. Here, we demonstrate that neuronal nitric oxide synthase (NOS1) interacts with Cdk5 and that the close proximity of the two proteins facilitates the formation of SNO-Cdk5. Interestingly, as a negative feedback mechanism, Cdk5 phosphorylates and suppresses NOS1 activity. Thus, together with our previous report, these findings delineate an S-nitrosylation pathway wherein Cdk5/NOS1 interaction enhances SNO-Cdk5 formation, mediating mitochondrial dysfunction and synaptic loss during the etiology of AD.
nitrosative stress; Cyclin-dependent kinase 5; nitric oxide; neuronal NO synthase; transnitrosylation
Prions consist of PrPSc, a misfolded version of the cellular protein PrPC. They occur in a variety of strains that share the amino acid sequence of PrP but differ in phenotypic properties, such as cell tropism and pathogenicity; strain-ness is attributed to the conformation of PrPSc. To gain insight as to how susceptibility of cells to a given prion strain comes about, we compared amplification of RML prions by PMCA, using cell lysates from related, RML-resistant and RML-susceptible cell lines as substrate. We found that both lysates supported amplification of RML PrPSc equally well, despite a 280-fold difference in the susceptibility of the cells from which they were derived. Thus, susceptibility is an attribute of the intact cell.
cell panel assay; PMCA; prion; replication; strains
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), included in the human transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), is widely known to be caused by an abnormal accumulation of misfolding prion protein in the brain. Human prion protein gene (PRNP) is mapped in chromosome 20p13 and many single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in PRNP have been discovered. However, the functionality of SNPs in PRNP is yet unclear, though several SNPs have been known as important mutation related with susceptibility human prion diseases. Our aim is to identify specific genotype patterns and characteristics in the PRNP genomic region and to understand susceptibility among Korean discriminated prion disease patients, suspected CJD patients and the KARE data group. Here, we have researched genotypes and SNPs allele frequencies in PRNP in discriminated prion disease patients group (n = 22), suspected prion diseases patients group (n = 163) and the Korea Association REsource (KARE) data group (n = 296) in Korea. The sequencing regions were promoter region, exon1 and exon2 with their junction parts among 481 samples. A total of 25 SNPs were shown in this study. Nucleotide frequencies of all SNPs are exceedingly tended to bias toward dominant homozygote types except in rs2756271. Genotype frequencies at codon 129 and 219 coding region were similar with previous studies in Korea and Japan. Pathogenic mutations such as 102P/L, 200E/K and 203V/I were observed in discriminated CJD patients group, and 180V/I and 232M/R were shown in suspected prion disease patients group and the KARE data group. A total of 10 SNPs were newly identified, six in the promoter region, one in exon 2 and three in the 3′ UTR. The strong and unique linkage disequilibrium (D' = 0.94, r2 = 0.89) was observed between rs57633656 and rs1800014 which is located in codon 219 coding region. We expect that these data can be provided to determine specific susceptibility and a protective factor of prion diseases not only in Koreans but also in East Asians.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; PRNP; human transmissible spongiform encephalopathies; linkage disequilibrium; single nucleotide polymorphisms
Prion diseases are caused by a conformational modification of the cellular prion protein (PrPC) into disease-specific forms, termed PrPSc, that have the ability to interact with PrPC promoting its conversion to PrPSc. In vitro studies demonstrated that anti-PrP antibodies inhibit this process. In particular, the single chain variable fragment D18 antibody (scFvD18) showed high efficiency in curing chronically prion-infected cells. This molecule binds the PrPC region involved in the interaction with PrPSc thus halting further prion formation. These findings prompted us to test the efficiency of scFvD18 in vivo. A recombinant Adeno-Associated Viral vector serotype 9 was used to deliver scFvD18 to the brain of mice that were subsequently infected by intraperitoneal route with the mouse-adapted scrapie strain RML. We found that the treatment was safe, prolonged the incubation time of scrapie-infected animals and decreased the burden of total proteinase-resistant PrPSc in the brain, suggesting that scFvD18 interferes with prion replication in vivo. This approach is relevant for designing new therapeutic strategies for prion diseases and other disorders characterized by protein misfolding.
prion disease; AAV9; monovalent antibody; immunotherapy; neurodegeneration
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
Perturbations of calcium homeostasis have been associated with several neurodegenerative disorders. A common polymorphism (rs2986017) in the CALHM1 gene, coding for a regulator of calcium homeostasis, is a genetic risk factor for the development of Alzheimer disease (AD). Although some authors failed to confirm these results, a meta-analysis has shown that this polymorphism modulates the age at disease onset. Furthermore, a recent association study has explored the genetic variability of CALHM1 gene and two adjacent paralog genes (CALHM3 and CALHM2) in an Asian population. Since several lines of evidence suggest that AD and prion diseases share pathophysiologic mechanisms, we investigated for the first time the genetic variability of the gene cluster formed by CALHM1 and its paralogs in a series of 235 sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) patients, and compared the genotypic and allelic frequencies with those presented in 329 controls from the same ancestry. As such, this work also represents the first association analysis of CALHM genes in sCJD. Sequencing analysis of the complete coding regions of the genes demonstrated the presence of 10 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) within the CALHM genes. We observed that rs4918016-rs2986017-rs2986018 and rs41287502-rs41287500 polymorphic sites at CALHM1 were in linkage disequilibrium. We found marginal associations for sCJD risk at CALHM1 polymorphic sites rs41287502 and rs41287500 [coding for two linked missense mutations (p.(Met323Ile); (Gly282Cys)], and rs2986017 [p.(Leu86Pro)]. Interestingly, a TGG haplotype defined by the rs4918016-rs2986017-rs2986018 block was associated with sCJD. These findings underscore the need of future multinational collaborative initiatives in order to corroborate these seminal data.
CALHM genes; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; calcium homeostasis; genetic risk; linkage disequilibrium
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare transmissible neurodegenerative disorder. The etiology of sporadic form of CJD remains unsolved. In addition to the codon 129 polymorphism, polymorphisms in the non-coding region of PRNP are considered as important factors in sCJD development. To assess a possible association between PRNP 1368 SNP and sCJD, we compared the genotype, allele and haplotype frequencies of the 1368 SNP among 46 sCJD patients of Dutch origin with the respective frequencies in healthy controls. We detected a significant association between sCJD and 1368T/T genotype. A significant difference was also observed in 1368 alleles’ distribution. In the haplotype analysis, haplotype 1368C-129G was associated with decreased risk of sCJD in Dutch population. Our findings support the hypothesis that genetic variations in the regulatory region of the PRNP gene may influence the pathogenesis of sCJD.
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; genetic susceptibility; polymorphisms; prion disease; prion protein gene
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an invariably fatal neurologic disease that naturally infects mule deer, white tailed deer and elk. The understanding of CWD neurodegeneration at a molecular level is very limited. In this study, microarray analysis was performed to determine changes in the gene expression profiles in six different tissues including brain, midbrain, thalamus, spleen, RPLN and tonsil of CWD-infected elk in comparison to non-infected healthy elk, using 24,000 bovine specific oligo probes. In total, 329 genes were found to be differentially expressed (> 2.0-fold) between CWD negative and positive brain tissues, with 132 genes upregulated and 197 genes downregulated. There were 249 DE genes in the spleen (168 up- and 81 downregulated), 30 DE genes in the retropharyngeal lymph node (RPLN) (18 up- and 12 downregulated), and 55 DE genes in the tonsil (21 up- and 34 downregulated). Using Gene Ontology (GO), the DE genes were assigned to functional groups associated with cellular process, biological regulation, metabolic process, and regulation of biological process. For all brain tissues, the highest ranking networks for DE genes identified by Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) were associated with neurological disease, cell morphology, cellular assembly and organization. Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) validated the expression of DE genes primarily involved in different regulatory pathways, including neuronal signaling and synapse function, calcium signaling, apoptosis and cell death and immune cell trafficking and inflammatory response. This is the first study to evaluate altered gene expression in multiple organs including brain from orally infected elk and the results will improve our understanding of CWD neurodegeneration at the molecular level.
CWD; differentially expressed; microarray; neurological; signaling
Aggregation-prone proteins associated with neurodegenerative disease, such as α synuclein and β amyloid, now appear to share key prion-like features with mammalian prion protein, such as the ability to recruit normal proteins to aggregates and to translocate between neurons. These features may shed light on the genesis of stereotyped lesion development patterns in conditions such as Alzheimer disease and Lewy Body dementia. We discuss the qualifications of tau protein as a possible “prionoid” mediator of lesion spread based on recent characterizations of the secretion, uptake and transneuronal transfer of human tau isoforms in a variety of tauopathy models, and in human patients. In particular, we consider (1) the possibility that prionoid behavior of misprocessed tau in neurodegenerative disease may involve other aggregation-prone proteins, including PrP itself, and (2) whether “prionlike” tau lesion propagation might include mechanisms other than protein-protein templating.
Prion Hypothesis; interneuronal lesion spread; neurodegeneration; prion; prionoid; tau; templating
Knowledge of the natural roles of cellular prion protein (PrPC) is essential to an understanding of the molecular basis of prion pathologies. This GPI-anchored protein has been described in synaptic contacts, and loss of its synaptic function in complex systems may contribute to the synaptic loss and neuronal degeneration observed in prionopathy. In addition, Prnp knockout mice show enhanced susceptibility to several excitotoxic insults, GABAA receptor-mediated fast inhibition was weakened, LTP was modified and cellular stress increased. Although little is known about how PrPC exerts its function at the synapse or the downstream events leading to PrPC-mediated neuroprotection against excitotoxic insults, PrPC has recently been reported to interact with two glutamate receptor subunits (NR2D and GluR6/7). In both cases the presence of PrPC blocks the neurotoxicity induced by NMDA and Kainate respectively. Furthermore, signals for seizure and neuronal cell death in response to Kainate in Prnp knockout mouse are associated with JNK3 activity, through enhancing the interaction of GluR6 with PSD-95. In combination with previous data, these results shed light on the molecular mechanisms behind the role of PrPC in excitotoxicity. Future experimental approaches are suggested and discussed.
Glutamate Receptors; Synapse; excitotoxicity; neuroprotection; prion protein; prionopathy
Most prions in yeast form amyloid fibrils that must be severed by the protein disaggregase Hsp104 to be propagated and transmitted efficiently to newly formed buds. Only one yeast prion, [PSI+], is cured by Hsp104 overexpression. We investigated the interaction between Hsp104 and Sup35, the priongenic protein in yeast that forms the [PSI+] prion.1 We found that a 20-amino acid segment within the highly-charged, unstructured middle domain of Sup35 contributes to the physical interaction between the middle domain and Hsp104. When this segment was deleted from Sup35, the efficiency of [PSI+] severing was substantially reduced, resulting in larger Sup35 particles and weakening of the [PSI+] phenotype. Furthermore, [PSI+] in these cells was completely resistant to Hsp104 curing. The affinity of Hsp104 was considerably weaker than that of model Hsp104-binding proteins and peptides, implying that Sup35 prions are not ideal substrates for Hsp104-mediated remodeling. In light of this finding, we present a modified model of Hsp104-mediated [PSI+] propagation and curing that requires only partial remodeling of Sup35 assembled into amyloid fibrils.
molecular chaperone; prion; protein aggregation; protein folding; yeast
For several different proteins an apparent correlation has been observed between the propensity for dimerization by domain-swapping and the ability to aggregate into amyloid-like fibrils. Examples include the disease-related proteins β2-microglobulin and transthyretin. This has led to proposals that the amyloid-formation pathway may feature extensive domain swapping. One possible consequence of such an aggregation pathway is that the resulting fibrils would incorporate structural elements that resemble the domain-swapped forms of the protein and, thus, reflect certain native-like structures or domain-interactions. In magic angle spinning solid-state NMR-based and other structural studies of such amyloid fibrils, it appears that many of these proteins form fibrils that are not native-like. Several fibrils, instead, have an in-register, parallel conformation, which is a common amyloid structural motif and is seen, for instance, in various prion fibrils. Such a lack of native structure in the fibrils suggests that the apparent connection between domain-swapping ability and amyloid-formation may be more subtle or complex than may be presumed at first glance.
amyloid fibrils; domain swapping; electron paramagnetic resonance; magic angle spinning NMR; protein aggregation; solid-state NMR; β2-microglobulin
The yeast prion phenomenon is very widespread and mounting evidence suggests that it has an impact on cellular regulatory mechanisms related to phenotypic responses to changing environments. Studying the aggregation patterns of prion amyloids during different stages of the prion life cycle is a first key step to understand major principles of how and where cells generate, organize and turn-over prion aggregates. The induction of the [PSI+] state involves the actin cytoskeleton and quality control compartments such as the Insoluble Protein Deposit (IPOD). An initially unstable transitional induction state can be visualized by overexpression of the prion determinant and displays characteristic large ring- and ribbon-shaped aggregates consisting of poorly fragmented bundles of very long prion fibrils. In the mature prion state, the aggregation pattern is characterized by highly fragmented, shorter prion fibrils that form aggregates, which can be visualized through tagging with fluorescent proteins. The number of aggregates formed varies, ranging from a single large aggregate at the IPOD to multiple smaller ones, depending on several parameters discussed. Aggregate units below the resolution of light microscopy that are detectable by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy are in equilibrium with larger aggregates in this stage and can mediate faithful inheritance of the prion state. Loss of the prion state is often characterized by reduced fragmentation of prion fibrils and fewer, larger aggregates.
(PSI+); Hsp104; Insoluble Protein deposit; aggregate organization; mature prion; prion fiber severing; prion induction; propagon
Ovine scrapie and cervid chronic wasting disease can be transmitted in the absence of animal-to-animal contact, and environmental reservoirs of infectivity have been implicated in their spread and persistence. Investigating environmental factors that influence the interaction of disease-associated PrP with soils is imperative to understanding what is likely to be the complex role of soil in disease transmission. Here, we describe the effects of soil temperature on the binding/desorption and persistence of both ovine scrapie- and bovine BSE-PrPTSE. Binding of PrPTSE to a sandy loam soil at temperatures of 4°C, 8–12°C and 25–30°C demonstrated that an increase in temperature resulted in (1) a decrease in the amount of PrPTSE recovered after 24 h of interaction with soil, (2) an increase in the amount of N-terminal cleavage of the prion protein over 11 d and (3) a decrease in the persistence of PrPTSE on soil over an 18 mo period.
BSE; environment; prion; scrapie; soil; transmission
The prion protein (PrP) sequence of European moose, reindeer, roe deer and fallow deer in Scandinavia has high homology to the PrP sequence of North American cervids. Variants in the European moose PrP sequence were found at amino acid position 109 as K or Q. The 109Q variant is unique in the PrP sequence of vertebrates. During the 1980s a wasting syndrome in Swedish moose, Moose Wasting Syndrome (MWS), was described. SNP analysis demonstrated a difference in the observed genotype proportions of the heterozygous Q/K and homozygous Q/Q variants in the MWS animals compared with the healthy animals. In MWS moose the allele frequencies for 109K and 109Q were 0.73 and 0.27, respectively, and for healthy animals 0.69 and 0.31. Both alleles were seen as heterozygotes and homozygotes. In reindeer, PrP sequence variation was demonstrated at codon 176 as D or N and codon 225 as S or Y. The PrP sequences in roe deer and fallow deer were identical with published GenBank sequences.
European moose; SNP; moose wasting syndrome; polymorphism; prion protein; reindeer
The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a tractable model organism in which both to explore the molecular mechanisms underlying the generation of disease-associated protein misfolding and to map the cellular responses to potentially toxic misfolded proteins. Specific targets have included proteins which in certain disease states form amyloids and lead to neurodegeneration. Such studies are greatly facilitated by the extensive ‘toolbox’ available to the yeast researcher that provides a range of cell engineering options. Consequently, a number of assays at the cell and molecular level have been set up to report on specific protein misfolding events associated with endogenous or heterologous proteins. One major target is the mammalian prion protein PrP because we know little about what specific sequence and/or structural feature(s) of PrP are important for its conversion to the infectious prion form, PrPSc. Here, using a study of the expression in yeast of fusion proteins comprising the yeast prion protein Sup35 fused to various regions of mouse PrP protein, we show how PrP sequences can direct the formation of non-transmissible amyloids and focus in particular on the role of the mouse octarepeat region. Through this study we illustrate the benefits and limitations of yeast-based models for protein misfolding disorders.
PrP; Sup35 fusions; nonsense suppression; prion; yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae)
Alzheimer disease (AD) is characterized by the amyloidogenic processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP), culminating in the accumulation of amyloid-β peptides in the brain. The enzymatic action of the β-secretase, BACE1 is the rate-limiting step in this amyloidogenic processing of APP. BACE1 cleavage of wild-type APP (APPWT) is inhibited by the cellular prion protein (PrPC). Our recent study has revealed the molecular and cellular mechanisms behind this observation by showing that PrPC directly interacts with the pro-domain of BACE1 in the trans-Golgi network (TGN), decreasing the amount of BACE1 at the cell surface and in endosomes where it cleaves APPWT, while increasing BACE1 in the TGN where it preferentially cleaves APP with the Swedish mutation (APPSwe). PrPC deletion in transgenic mice expressing the Swedish and Indiana familial mutations (APPSwe,Ind) failed to affect amyloid-β accumulation, which is explained by the differential subcellular sites of action of BACE1 toward APPWT and APPSwe. This, together with our observation that PrPC is reduced in sporadic but not familial AD brain, suggests that PrPC plays a key protective role against sporadic AD. It also highlights the need for an APPWT transgenic mouse model to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying sporadic AD.
Alzheimer disease; amyloid precursor protein (APP); amyloid-β (Aβ); cellular prion protein (PrPC); β-site APP-cleaving enzyme-1 (BACE1)
Previous studies have shown that genetic quantitative trait loci (QTL), strain barriers, inoculation dose and inoculation method modulate the incubation period of prion diseases. We examined the relationship between a diverse set of physical, genetic and immunological characteristics and the incubation period of prion disease using correlation analyses. We found that incubation period was highly correlated with brain weight. In addition, mean corpuscular volume and cell size were strongly correlated with incubation period, indicating that the physical magnitude of prion-infected organs or individual cells may be important in determining the incubation period. Given the same prion inoculation dose, animals with a lower brain weight, mean corpuscular volume or cell size may experience more virulent disease, as the effective concentration of abnormal prion, which might regulate the attachment rate of prions to aggregates, is increased with smaller capacity of brains and cells. This is partly consistent with previous theoretical modeling. The strong correlations between incubation period and physical properties of the brain and cells in this study suggest that the mechanism underlying prion disease pathology may be physical, indicating that the incubation process is governed by simple chemical stoichiometry.
body weight; brain weight; correlation analysis; incubation period; prion disease
Failure to eliminate abnormal proteins in the cell is associated with numerous aggregation diseases. Misfolded proteins are normally detected by protein quality control and either refolded or eliminated. The ubiquitin-proteasome system is a major pathway that degrades these unwanted proteins. Ubiquitin ligases are central to these degradation pathways as they recognize aberrant proteins and covalently attach a polyubiquitin chain to target them to the proteasome. We discovered that the Hul5 ubiquitin ligase is a major player in a novel protein quality control pathway that targets cytosolic misfolded proteins. Hul5 is required for the maintenance of cell fitness and the increased ubiquitination of low solubility proteins after heat-shock in yeast cells. We identified several low-solubility substrates of Hul5, including the prion-like protein Pin3. It is now apparent that in the cytoplasm, misfolded proteins can be targeted by multiple degradation pathways. In this review, we discuss how the Hul5 protein quality control pathway may specifically target low solubility cytosolic proteins in the cell.
HECT ligase; Hul5; Pin3; aggregation; misfolding; protein quality control; proteolysis; ubiquitin proteasome system
Yeast prions are infectious proteins that spread exclusively by mating. The frequency of prions in the wild therefore largely reflects the rate of spread by mating counterbalanced by prion growth slowing effects in the host. We recently showed that the frequency of outcross mating is about 1% of mitotic doublings with 23–46% of total matings being outcrosses. These findings imply that even the mildest forms of the [PSI+], [URE3] and [PIN+] prions impart > 1% growth/survival detriment on their hosts. Our estimate of outcrossing suggests that Saccharomyces cerevisiae is far more sexual than previously thought and would therefore be more responsive to the adaptive effects of natural selection compared with a strictly asexual yeast. Further, given its large effective population size, a growth/survival detriment of > 1% for yeast prions should strongly select against prion-infected strains in wild populations of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
outcross; fitness; evolutionary constraint; effective population size