Biochemical and strain properties of CJD prions: complexity versus simplicity.
ABSTRACT Prions, the agents responsible for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, are infectious proteins consisting primarily of scrapie prion protein (PrP(Sc)), a misfolded, β-sheet enriched and aggregated form of the host-encoded cellular prion protein (PrP(C)). Their propagation is based on an autocatalytic PrP conversion process. Despite the lack of a nucleic acid genome, different prion strains have been isolated from animal diseases. Increasing evidence supports the view that strain-specific properties may be enciphered within conformational variations of PrP(Sc). In humans, sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) is the most frequent form of prion diseases and has demonstrated a wide phenotypic and molecular spectrum. In contrast, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), which results from oral exposure to the agent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a highly stereotyped disease, that, until now, has only occurred in patients who are methionine homozygous at codon 129 of the PrP gene. Recent research has provided consistent evidence of strain diversity in sCJD and also, unexpectedly enough, in vCJD. Here, we discuss the puzzling biochemical/pathological diversity of human prion disorders and the relationship of that diversity to the biological properties of the agent as demonstrated by strain typing in experimental models.
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ABSTRACT: Replication of prions is dependent on the presence of the host protein PrPc. During the course of disease, PrPc is converted into an abnormal isoform, PrPSc, which accumulates in the brain. Attempts to identify the cell type(s) in which prion replication and PrP conversion occur have reached conflicting results. Although PrP mRNA is present in high amounts in neurons throughout the life of the animal, PrPSc initially accumulates in astrocytes and possibly other glial cells and, later in the course of the disease, spreads diffusely in the tissue, often in white matter. We report here that PrP mRNA is expressed not only in neurons but also in astrocytes and oligodendrocytes throughout the brain of postnatal hamsters and rats. The level of glial Prp mRNA expression in neonatal animals was comparable to that of neurons and increased two-fold during postnatal development. A substantial portion of brain PrP mRNA is therefore contributed by glial cells. Our results provide an explanation for the accumulation of PrPSc in white matter tissue and in the cytoplasm of glial cells and argue for a direct involvement of glia in prion propagation.Neuron 04/1995; 14(3):509-17. · 15.77 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The infectious agents causing scrapie and other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies have been postulated to consist solely of the protease-resistant form of prion protein (PrPSc). One unprecedented requirement of the protein-only model is that the 'inheritance' of pathogen strain differences must be mediated by stable variations in PrPSc structure, rather than mutations in an agent-specific nucleic acid. Strain differences in PrPSc structure have been described for the hyper (HY) and drowsy (DY) strains of hamster transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME), a scrapie-like disease originating in mink. Although HY and DY PrPSc are both post-translationally derived from the precursor prion protein (PrPC) they are cleaved at different amino-terminal sites by proteinase K (ref. 8). Here we investigate whether this strain-specific property of PrPSc is transmitted to PrPC during formation of new PrPSc. PrPSc from the HY and DY TME strains converted the protease-sensitive PrPC into two distinct sets of protease-resistant PrP products in a cell-free system. These data provide evidence that self-propagation of PrPSc polymers with distinct three-dimensional structures could be the molecular basis of scrapie strains.Nature 07/1995; 375(6533):698-700. · 38.60 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: S.B. Prusiner proposed that the infectious agent of scraple, the prion, is PrPSc, a modified form of the normal host protein PrPC. Prn-p0/0 mice devoid of PrPC showed normal development and behavior. When inoculated with mouse scrapie prions, they remained free of scrapie symptoms for at least 13 months while wild-type controls all died within 6 months. Surprisingly, heterozygous Prn-p0/+ mice also showed enhanced resistance to scrapie. After introduction of Syrian hamster PrP transgenes, Prn-p0/0 mice became highly susceptible to hamster but not to mouse prions. These experiments show that PrPC, possibly at close to normal levels, is required for the usual susceptibility to scrapie and that lack of homology between incoming prions and the host's PrP genes retards disease.Cell 08/1993; 73(7):1339-47. · 31.96 Impact Factor