The effect of disease-associated mutations on the folding pathway of human prion protein.
ABSTRACT Propagation of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies is believed to involve the conversion of cellular prion protein, PrP(C), into a misfolded oligomeric form, PrP(Sc). An important step toward understanding the mechanism of this conversion is to elucidate the folding pathway(s) of the prion protein. We reported recently (Apetri, A. C., and Surewicz, W. K. (2002) J. Biol. Chem. 277, 44589-44592) that the folding of wild-type prion protein can best be described by a three-state sequential model involving a partially folded intermediate. Here we have performed kinetic stopped-flow studies for a number of recombinant prion protein variants carrying mutations associated with familial forms of prion disease. Analysis of kinetic data clearly demonstrates the presence of partially structured intermediates on the refolding pathway of each PrP variant studied. In each case, the partially folded state is at least one order of magnitude more populated than the fully unfolded state. The present study also reveals that, for the majority of PrP variants tested, mutations linked to familial prion diseases result in a pronounced increase in the thermodynamic stability, and thus the population, of the folding intermediate. These data strongly suggest that partially structured intermediates of PrP may play a crucial role in prion protein conversion, serving as direct precursors of the pathogenic PrP(Sc) isoform.
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ABSTRACT: The mechanisms underlying the selective targeting of specific brain regions by different neurodegenerative diseases is one of the most intriguing mysteries in medicine. For example, it is known that Alzheimer's disease primarily affects parts of the brain that play a role in memory, whereas Parkinson's disease predominantly affects parts of the brain that are involved in body movement. However, the reasons that other brain regions remain unaffected in these diseases are unknown. A better understanding of the phenomenon of selective vulnerability is required for the development of targeted therapeutic approaches that specifically protect affected neurons, thereby altering the disease course and preventing its progression. Prion diseases are a fascinating group of neurodegenerative diseases because they exhibit a wide phenotypic spectrum caused by different sequence perturbations in a single protein. The possible ways that mutations affecting this protein can cause several distinct neurodegenerative diseases are explored in this Review to highlight the complexity underlying selective vulnerability. The premise of this article is that selective vulnerability is determined by the interaction of specific protein conformers and region-specific microenvironments harboring unique combinations of subcellular components such as metals, chaperones and protein translation machinery. Given the abundance of potential contributory factors in the neurodegenerative process, a better understanding of how these factors interact will provide invaluable insight into disease mechanisms to guide therapeutic discovery.Disease Models and Mechanisms 01/2014; 7(1):21-9. · 4.96 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Recent studies revealed that elk-like S170N/N174T mutation in mouse prion protein (moPrP), which results in an increased rigidity of β2-α2 loop, leads to a prion disease in transgenic mice. Here we characterized the effect of this mutation on biophysical properties of moPrP. Despite similar thermodynamic stabilities of wild type and mutant proteins, the latter was found to have markedly higher propensity to form amyloid fibrils. Importantly, this effect was observed even under fully denaturing conditions, indicating that the increased conversion propensity of the mutant protein is not due to loop rigidity but rather results from greater amyloidogenic potential of the amino acid sequence within the loop region of S170N/N174T moPrP.FEBS letters 07/2013; · 3.54 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: In man, mutations in different regions of the prion protein (PrP) are associated with infectious neurodegenerative diseases that have remarkably different clinical signs and neuropathological lesions. To explore the roots of this phenomenon, we created a knock-in mouse model carrying the mutation associated with one of these diseases [Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)] that was exactly analogous to a previous knock-in model of a different prion disease [fatal familial insomnia (FFI)]. Together with the WT parent, this created an allelic series of three lines, each expressing the same protein with a single amino acid difference, and with all native regulatory elements intact. The previously described FFI mice develop neuronal loss and intense reactive gliosis in the thalamus, as seen in humans with FFI. In contrast, CJD mice had the hallmark features of CJD, spongiosis and proteinase K-resistant PrP aggregates, initially developing in the hippocampus and cerebellum but absent from the thalamus. A molecular transmission barrier protected the mice from any infectious prion agents that might have been present in our mouse facility and allowed us to conclude that the diseases occurred spontaneously. Importantly, both models created agents that caused a transmissible neurodegenerative disease in WT mice. We conclude that single codon differences in a single gene in an otherwise normal genome can cause remarkably different neurodegenerative diseases and are sufficient to create distinct protein-based infectious elements.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2013; · 9.81 Impact Factor