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1.  DNA aptamers detecting generic amyloid epitopes 
Prion  2012;6(4):400-406.
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.
doi:10.4161/pri.20678
PMCID: PMC3609070  PMID: 22874671
Saccharomyces cerevisiae; Sup35/eRF3; [PSI+]; amyloid; aptamer; huntingtin; polyglutamine; prion
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.  The Effects of Amino Acid Composition of Glutamine-Rich Domains on Amyloid Formation and Fragmentation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46458.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0046458
PMCID: PMC3468588  PMID: 23071575
4.  Amyloid-Mediated Sequestration of Essential Proteins Contributes to Mutant Huntingtin Toxicity in Yeast 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29832.
Background
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.
Principal Findings
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029832
PMCID: PMC3256205  PMID: 22253794
5.  Molecular Basis for Transmission Barrier and Interference between Closely Related Prion Proteins in Yeast* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2011;286(18):15773-15780.
Replicating amyloids, called prions, are responsible for transmissible neurodegenerative diseases in mammals and some heritable phenotypes in fungi. The transmission of prions between species is usually inhibited, being highly sensitive to small differences in amino acid sequence of the prion-forming proteins. To understand the molecular basis of this prion interspecies barrier, we studied the transmission of the [PSI+] prion state from Sup35 of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to hybrid Sup35 proteins with prion-forming domains from four other closely related Saccharomyces species. Whereas all the hybrid Sup35 proteins could adopt a prion form in S. cerevisiae, they could not readily acquire the prion form from the [PSI+] prion of S. cerevisiae. Expression of the hybrid Sup35 proteins in S. cerevisiae [PSI+] cells often resulted in frequent loss of the native [PSI+] prion. Furthermore, all hybrid Sup35 proteins showed different patterns of interaction with the native [PSI+] prion in terms of co-polymerization, acquisition of the prion state, and induced prion loss, all of which were also dependent on the [PSI+] variant. The observed loss of S. cerevisiae [PSI+] can be related to inhibition of prion polymerization of S. cerevisiae Sup35 and formation of a non-heritable form of amyloid. We have therefore identified two distinct molecular origins of prion transmission barriers between closely sequence-related prion proteins: first, the inability of heterologous proteins to co-aggregate with host prion polymers, and second, acquisition by these proteins of a non-heritable amyloid fold.
doi:10.1074/jbc.M110.183889
PMCID: PMC3091186  PMID: 21454674
Amyloid; Prions; Protein Folding; Translation Release Factors; Yeast; Saccharomyces; Sup35; Prion Interference; Prion Species Barrier
6.  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
7.  C-Terminal Truncation of α-COP Affects Functioning of Secretory Organelles and Calcium Homeostasis in Hansenula polymorpha 
Eukaryotic Cell  2004;3(1):52-60.
In eukaryotic cells, COPI vesicles retrieve resident proteins to the endoplasmic reticulum and mediate intra-Golgi transport. Here, we studied the Hansenula polymorpha homologue of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae RET1 gene, encoding α-COP, a subunit of the COPI protein complex. H. polymorpha ret1 mutants, which expressed truncated α-COP lacking more than 300 C-terminal amino acids, manifested an enhanced ability to secrete human urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and an inability to grow with a shortage of Ca2+ ions, whereas a lack of α-COP expression was lethal. The α-COP defect also caused alteration of intracellular transport of the glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored protein Gas1p, secretion of abnormal uPA forms, and reductions in the levels of Pmr1p, a Golgi Ca2+-ATPase. Overexpression of Pmr1p suppressed some ret1 mutant phenotypes, namely, Ca2+ dependence and enhanced uPA secretion. The role of COPI-dependent vesicular transport in cellular Ca2+ homeostasis is discussed.
doi:10.1128/EC.3.1.52-60.2004
PMCID: PMC329505  PMID: 14871936
8.  Efficient Library Construction by In Vivo Recombination with a Telomere-Originated Autonomously Replicating Sequence of Hansenula polymorpha 
A high frequency of transformation and an equal gene dosage between transformants are generally required for activity-based selection of mutants from a library obtained by directed evolution. An efficient library construction method was developed by using in vivo recombination in Hansenula polymorpha. Various linear sets of vectors and insert fragments were transformed and analyzed to optimize the in vivo recombination system. A telomere-originated autonomously replicating sequence (ARS) of H. polymorpha, reported as a recombination hot spot, facilitates in vivo recombination between the linear transforming DNA and chromosomes. In vivo recombination of two linear DNA fragments containing the telomeric ARS drastically increases the transforming frequency, up to 10-fold, compared to the frequency of circular plasmids. Direct integration of the one-end-recombined linear fragment into chromosomes produced transformants with single-copy gene integration, resulting in the same expression level for the reporter protein between transformants. This newly developed in vivo recombination system of H. polymorpha provides a suitable library for activity-based selection of mutants after directed evolution.
doi:10.1128/AEM.69.8.4448-4454.2003
PMCID: PMC169078  PMID: 12902228

Results 1-8 (8)