Protein inheritance (prions) based on parallel in-register β-sheet amyloid structures

Laboratory of Biochemistry and Genetics, National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-0830, USA.
BioEssays (Impact Factor: 4.84). 10/2008; 30(10):955-64. DOI: 10.1002/bies.20821
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Most prions (infectious proteins) are self-propagating amyloids (filamentous protein multimers), and have been found in both mammals and fungal species. The prions [URE3] and [PSI+] of yeast are disease agents of Saccharomyces cerevisiae while [Het-s] of Podospora anserina may serve a normal cellular function. The parallel in-register beta-sheet structure shown by prion amyloids makes possible a templating action at the end of filaments which explains the faithful transmission of variant differences in these molecules. This property of self-reproduction, in turn, allows these proteins to act as de facto genes, encoding heritable information.

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    ABSTRACT: Assembly of amyloid proteins into aggregates requires the ordering of the monomers in oligomers and especially in such highly organized structures as fibrils. This ordering is accompanied by structural transitions leading to the formation of ordered β-structural motifs in proteins and peptides lacking secondary structures. To characterize the effect of the monomer arrangements on the aggregation process at various stages, we performed comparative studies of the yeast prion protein Sup35 heptapeptide (GNNQQNY) along with its dimeric form CGNNQQNY-(d-Pro)-G-GNNQQNY. The (d-Pro)-G linker in this construct is capable of adopting a β-turn, facilitating the assembly of the dimer into the dimeric antiparallel hairpin structure (AP-hairpin). We applied Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) techniques to follow peptide–peptide interactions at the single molecule level, to visualize the morphology of aggregates formed by both constructs, thioflavin T (ThT) fluorescence to follow the aggregation kinetics, and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopy to characterize the secondary structure of the constructs. The ThT fluorescence data showed that the AP-hairpin aggregation kinetics is insensitive to the external environment such as ionic strength and pH contrary to the monomers the kinetics of which depends dramatically on the ionic strength and pH. The AFM topographic imaging revealed that AP-hairpins primarily assemble into globular aggregates, whereas linear fibrils are primary assemblies of the monomers suggesting that both constructs follow different aggregation pathways during the self-assembly. These morphological differences are in line with the AFM force spectroscopy experiments and CD spectroscopy measurements, suggesting that the AP-hairpin is structurally rigid regardless of changes of environmental factors.
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    ABSTRACT: A prion is an infectious protein horizontally transmitting a disease or trait without a required nucleic acid. Yeast and fungal prions are nonchromosomal genes composed of protein, generally an altered form of a protein that catalyzes the same alteration of the protein. Yeast prions are thus transmitted both vertically (as genes composed of protein) and horizontally (as infectious proteins, or prions). Formation of amyloids (linear ordered β-sheet-rich protein aggregates with β-strands perpendicular to the long axis of the filament) underlies most yeast and fungal prions, and a single prion protein can have any of several distinct self-propagating amyloid forms with different biological properties (prion variants). Here we review the mechanism of faithful templating of protein conformation, the biological roles of these prions, and their interactions with cellular chaperones, the Btn2 and Cur1 aggregate-handling systems, and other cellular factors governing prion generation and propagation. Human amyloidoses include the PrP-based prion conditions and many other, more common amyloid-based diseases, several of which show prion-like features. Yeast prions increasingly are serving as models for the understanding and treatment of many mammalian amyloidoses. Patients with different clinical pictures of the same amyloidosis may be the equivalent of yeasts with different prion variants. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.
    Microbiology and molecular biology reviews: MMBR 03/2015; 79(1):1-17. DOI:10.1128/MMBR.00041-14 · 15.26 Impact Factor

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