[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prions are proteinaceous infectious agents responsible for fatal neurodegenerative diseases in animals and humans. They are essentially composed of PrP(Sc), an aggregated, misfolded conformer of the ubiquitously expressed host-encoded prion protein (PrP(C)). Stable variations in PrP(Sc) conformation are assumed to encode the phenotypically tangible prion strains diversity. However the direct contribution of PrP(Sc) quaternary structure to the strain biological information remains mostly unknown. Applying a sedimentation velocity fractionation technique to a panel of ovine prion strains, classified as fast and slow according to their incubation time in ovine PrP transgenic mice, has previously led to the observation that the relationship between prion infectivity and PrP(Sc) quaternary structure was not univocal. For the fast strains specifically, infectivity sedimented slowly and segregated from the bulk of proteinase-K resistant PrP(Sc). To carefully separate the respective contributions of size and density to this hydrodynamic behavior, we performed sedimentation at the equilibrium and varied the solubilization conditions. The density profile of prion infectivity and proteinase-K resistant PrP(Sc) tended to overlap whatever the strain, fast or slow, leaving only size as the main responsible factor for the specific velocity properties of the fast strain most infectious component. We further show that this velocity-isolable population of discrete assemblies perfectly resists limited proteolysis and that its templating activity, as assessed by protein misfolding cyclic amplification outcompetes by several orders of magnitude that of the bulk of larger size PrP(Sc) aggregates. Together, the tight correlation between small size, conversion efficiency and duration of disease establishes PrP(Sc) quaternary structure as a determining factor of prion replication dynamics. For certain strains, a subset of PrP assemblies appears to be the best template for prion replication. This has important implications for fundamental studies on prions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In naturally acquired transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, the pathogenic agents or prions spread from the sites of initial peripheral uptake or replication to the brain where they cause progressive and fatal neurodegeneration. Routing via the peripheral nervous system is considered as one of the main pathways to attain the central nervous system. Replication of prions in Schwann cells is viewed as a potentially important parameter for efficient prion spread along nerves. Here we used a Cre-loxP mouse transgenetic approach to disrupt PrPC specifically in myelinating Schwann cells. Despite the use of infection routes targeting highly myelinated nerves, there was no alteration in mouse prion pathogenesis, suggesting that conversion-dependent, centripetal spread of prions does not crucially rely on PrPC expressed by myelinating Schwann cells.
Journal of General Virology 02/2013; · 3.13 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is a neurodegenerative infectious disorder, characterized by a prominent accumulation of pathological isoforms of the prion protein (PrP(TSE)) in the brain and lymphoid tissues. Since the publication in the United Kingdom of four apparent vCJD cases following transfusion of red blood cells and one apparent case following treatment with factor VIII, the presence of vCJD infectivity in the blood seems highly probable. For effective blood testing of vCJD individuals in the preclinical or clinical phase of infection, it is considered necessary that assays detect PrP(TSE) concentrations in the femtomolar range.
We have developed a three-step assay that firstly captures PrP(TSE) from infected blood using a plasminogen-coated magnetic-nanobead method prior to its serial amplification via protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) and specific PrP(TSE) detection by western blot. We achieved a PrP(TSE) capture yield of 95% from scrapie-infected material. We demonstrated the possibility of detecting PrP(TSE) in white blood cells, in buffy coat and in plasma isolated from the blood of scrapie-infected sheep collected at the pre-clinical stage of the disease. The test also allowed the detection of PrP(TSE) in human plasma spiked with a 10(-8) dilution of vCJD-infected brain homogenate corresponding to the level of sensitivity (femtogram) required for the detection of the PrP(TSE) in asymptomatic carriers. The 100% specificity of the test was revealed using a blinded panel comprising 96 human plasma samples.
We have developed a sensitive and specific amplification assay allowing the detection of PrP(TSE) in the plasma and buffy coat fractions of blood collected at the pre-clinical phase of the disease. This assay represents a good candidate as a confirmatory assay for the presence of PrP(TSE) in blood of patients displaying positivity in large scale screening tests.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(7):e69632. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Using a yeast-based assay, a previously unsuspected antiprion activity was found for imiquimod (IQ), a potent Toll-like receptor 7 (TLR7) agonist already used for clinical applications. The antiprion activity of IQ was first detected against yeast prions [PSI (+) ] and [URE3], and then against mammalian prion both ex vivo in a cell-based assay and in vivo in a transgenic mouse model for prion diseases. In order to facilitate structure-activity relationship studies, we conducted a new synthetic pathway which provides a more efficient means of producing new IQ chemical derivatives, the activity of which was tested against both yeast and mammalian prions. The comparable antiprion activity of IQ and its chemical derivatives in the above life forms further emphasizes the conservation of prion controlling mechanisms throughout evolution. Interestingly, this study also demonstrated that the antiprion activity of IQ and IQ-derived compounds is independent from their ability to stimulate TLRs. Furthermore, we found that IQ and its active chemical derivatives inhibit the protein folding activity of the ribosome (PFAR) in vitro.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(8):e72112. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The emergence of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (vCJD) is considered a likely consequence of human dietary exposure to Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) agent. More recently, secondary vCJD cases were identified in patients transfused with blood products prepared from apparently healthy donors who later went on to develop the disease. As there is no validated assay for detection of vCJD/BSE infected individuals the prevalence of the disease in the population remains uncertain. In that context the risk of vCJD blood borne transmission is considered as a serious concern by health authorities.
In this study, appropriate conditions and substrates for highly efficient and specific in vitro amplification of vCJD/BSE agent using Protein Misfolding Cyclic Assay (PMCA) were first identified. This showed that whatever the origin (species) of vCJD/BSE agent, the ovine Q171 PrP substrates provided the best amplification performances. These results indicate that the homology of PrP amino-acid sequence between the seed and the substrate is not the crucial determinant of the vCJD agent in vitro propagation.
The ability of this method to detect endogenous vCJD/BSE agent in the blood was then defined. In both sheep and primate models of the disease, the assay enabled the identification of infected individuals in the early preclinical stage of the incubation period. Finally, blood from two vCJD affected patients and 135 healthy controls were tested. The assay detected the presence of the vCJD case within a pool of several dozens of human blood samples. The equivalent 0.05 μL of whole blood from the vCJD affected patient was sufficient for amplifying PrPres.These results open new possibilities for vCJD screening and prevention of its iatrogenic transmission
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT Measurements of the presence of prions in biological tissues or fluids rely more and more on cell-free assays. Although protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) has emerged as a valuable, sensitive tool, it is currently hampered by its lack of robustness and rapidity for high-throughput purposes. Here, we made a number of improvements making it possible to amplify the maximum levels of scrapie prions in a single 48-h round and in a microplate format. The amplification rates and the infectious titer of the PMCA-formed prions appeared similar to those derived from the in vivo laboratory bioassays. This enhanced technique also amplified efficiently prions from different species, including those responsible for human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This new format should help in developing ultrasensitive, high-throughput prion assays for cognitive, diagnostic, and therapeutic applications. IMPORTANCE The method developed here allows large-scale, fast, and reliable cell-free amplification of subinfectious levels of prions from different species. The sensitivity and rapidity achieved approach or equal those of other recently developed prion-seeded conversion assays. Our simplified assay may be amenable to high-throughput, automated purposes and serve in a complementary manner with other recently developed assays for urgently needed antemortem diagnostic tests, by using bodily fluids containing small amounts of prion infectivity. Such a combination of assays is of paramount importance to reduce the transfusion risk in the human population and to identify asymptomatic carriers of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Upon prion infection, abnormal prion protein (PrP (Sc) ) self-perpetuate by conformational conversion of α-helix-rich PrP (C) into β sheet enriched form, leading to formation and deposition of PrP (Sc) aggregates in affected brains. However the process remains poorly understood at the molecular level and the regions of PrP critical for conversion are still debated. Minimal amino acid substitutions can impair prion replication at many places in PrP. Conversely, we recently showed that bona fide prions could be generated after introduction of eight and up to 16 additional amino acids in the H2-H3 inter-helix loop of PrP. Prion replication also accommodated the insertions of an octapeptide at different places in the last turns of H2. This reverse genetic approach reveals an unexpected tolerance of prions to substantial sequence changes in the protease-resistant part which is associated with infectivity. It also demonstrates that conversion does not require the presence of a specific sequence in the middle of the H2-H3 area. We discuss the implications of our findings according to different structural models proposed for PrP (Sc) and questioned the postulated existence of an N- or C-terminal prion domain in the protease-resistant region.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although the pivotal implication of the host-encoded Prion protein, PrP, in the neuropathology of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy is known for decades, its biological role remains mostly elusive. Genetic inactivation is one way to assess such issue but, so far, PrP-knockout mice did not help much. However, recent reports involving (1) further studies of these mice during embryogenesis, (2) knockdown experiments in Zebrafish and (3) knockdown of Shadoo, a protein with PrP-like functional domains, in PrP-knockout mice, all suggested a role of the Prion protein family in early embryogenesis. This view is challenged by the recent report that PrP/Shadoo knockout mice are healthy and fertile. Although puzzling, these apparently contradictory data may on the contrary help at deciphering the Prion protein family role through focusing scientific attention outside the central nervous system and by helping the identification of other loci involved in the genetic robustness associated with PrP.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prions cause fatal neurodegenerative conditions and result from the conversion of host-encoded cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) into abnormally folded scrapie PrP (PrP(Sc)). Prions can propagate both in neurons and astrocytes, yet neurotoxicity mechanisms remain unclear. Recently, PrP(C) was proposed to mediate neurotoxic signaling of β-sheet-rich PrP and non-PrP conformers independently of conversion. To investigate the role of astrocytes and neuronal PrP(C) in prion-induced neurodegeneration, we set up neuron and astrocyte primary cocultures derived from PrP transgenic mice. In this system, prion-infected astrocytes delivered ovine PrP(Sc) to neurons lacking PrP(C) (prion-resistant), or expressing a PrP(C) convertible (sheep) or not (mouse, human). We show that interaction between neuronal PrP(C) and exogenous PrP(Sc) was not sufficient to induce neuronal death but that efficient PrP(C) conversion was required for prion-associated neurotoxicity. Prion-infected astrocytes markedly accelerated neurodegeneration in homologous cocultures compared to infected single neuronal cultures, despite no detectable neurotoxin release. Finally, PrP(Sc) accumulation in neurons led to neuritic damages and cell death, both potentiated by glutamate and reactive oxygen species. Thus, conversion of neuronal PrP(C) rather than PrP(C)-mediated neurotoxic signaling appears as the main culprit in prion-induced neurodegeneration. We suggest that active prion replication in neurons sensitizes them to environmental stress regulated by neighboring cells, including astrocytes.
The FASEB Journal 06/2012; 26(9):3854-61. · 5.70 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The process of prion conversion is not yet well understood at the molecular level. The regions critical for the conformational change of PrP remain mostly debated and the extent of sequence change acceptable for prion conversion is poorly documented. To achieve progress on these issues, we applied a reverse genetic approach using the Rov cell system. This allowed us to test the susceptibility of a number of insertion mutants to conversion into prion in the absence of wild-type PrP molecules. We were able to propagate several prions with 8 to 16 extra amino acids, including a polyglycine stretch and His or FLAG tags, inserted in the middle of the protease-resistant fragment. These results demonstrate the possibility to increase the length of the loop between helices H2 and H3 up to 4-fold, without preventing prion replication. They also indicate that this loop probably remains unstructured in PrP(Sc). We also showed that bona fide prions can be produced following insertion of octapeptides in the two C-terminal turns of H2. These insertions do not interfere with the overall fold of the H2-H3 domain indicating that the highly conserved sequence of the terminal part of H2 is not critical for the conversion. Altogether these data showed that the amplitude of modifications acceptable for prion conversion in the core of the globular domain of PrP is much greater than one might have assumed. These observations should help to refine structural models of PrP(Sc) and elucidate the conformational changes underlying prions generation.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 04/2012; 287(23):18953-64. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prions are infectious pathogens essentially composed of PrP(Sc), an abnormally folded form of the host-encoded prion protein PrP(C). Constrained steric interactions between PrP(Sc) and PrP(C) are thought to provide prions with species specificity and to control cross-species transmission into other host populations, including humans. We compared the ability of brain and lymphoid tissues from ovine and human PrP transgenic mice to replicate foreign, inefficiently transmitted prions. Lymphoid tissue was consistently more permissive than the brain to prions such as those causing chronic wasting disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Furthermore, when the transmission barrier was overcome through strain shifting in the brain, a distinct agent propagated in the spleen, which retained the ability to infect the original host. Thus, prion cross-species transmission efficacy can exhibit a marked tissue dependence.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The prion protein (PrP) is absolutely required for the development of prion diseases; nevertheless, its physiological functions in the central nervous system remain elusive. Using a combination of behavioral, electrophysiological and biochemical approaches in transgenic mouse models, we provide strong evidence for a crucial role of PrP in alcohol sensitivity. Indeed, PrP knock out (PrP(-/-)) mice presented a greater sensitivity to the sedative effects of EtOH compared to wild-type (wt) control mice. Conversely, compared to wt mice, those over-expressing mouse, human or hamster PrP genes presented a relative insensitivity to ethanol-induced sedation. An acute tolerance (i.e. reversion) to ethanol inhibition of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-mediated excitatory post-synaptic potentials in hippocampal slices developed slower in PrP(-/-) mice than in wt mice. We show that PrP is required to induce acute tolerance to ethanol by activating a Src-protein tyrosine kinase-dependent intracellular signaling pathway. In an attempt to decipher the molecular mechanisms underlying PrP-dependent ethanol effect, we looked for changes in lipid raft features in hippocampus of ethanol-treated wt mice compared to PrP(-/-) mice. Ethanol induced rapid and transient changes of buoyancy of lipid raft-associated proteins in hippocampus of wt but not PrP(-/-) mice suggesting a possible mechanistic link for PrP-dependent signal transduction. Together, our results reveal a hitherto unknown physiological role of PrP on the regulation of NMDAR activity and highlight its crucial role in synaptic functions.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(4):e34691. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The potential requirement of either the Prion or Shadoo protein for early mouse embryogenesis was recently suggested. However, the current data did not allow to precise the developmental process that was affected in the absence of both proteins and that led to the observed early lethal phenotype. In the present study, using various Prnp transgenic mouse lines and lentiviral vectors expressing shRNAs that target the Shadoo-encoding mRNA, we further demonstrate the specific requirement of at least one of these two PrP-related proteins at early developmental stages. Histological analysis reveals developmental defect of the ectoplacental cone and important hemorrhage surrounding the Prnp-knockout-Sprn-knockdown E7.5 embryos. By restricting the RNA interference to the trophoblastic cell lineages, the observed lethal phenotype could be attributed to the sole role of these proteins in this trophectoderm-derived compartment. RNAseq analysis performed on early embryos of various Prnp and Sprn genotypes indicated that the simultaneous down-regulation of these two proteins affects cell-adhesion and inflammatory pathways as well as the expression of ectoplacental-specific genes. Overall, our data provide biological clues in favor of a crucial and complementary embryonic role of the prion protein family in Eutherians and emphasizes the need to further evaluate its implication in normal and pathological human placenta biology.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(7):e41959. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The prion-like protein Shadoo has been suggested to compensate for the lack of PrP in Prnp-knockout mice, explaining their lack of extreme phenotype. In adult mice, both PrP and Shadoo have shown overlapping expression patterns and shared functions. Their expression in the mouse embryo has also been suggested to be complementary, as invalidation of both genes results in embryonic lethality. The developmental expression profile of PrP has been described from post-implantation stages up until birth. However the spatial expression pattern of Shadoo in the developing mouse embryo is not known. We previously described the expression profile of the prion-like protein Shadoo in adult mice using Sprn reporter mice (Sprn-GFP and Sprn-LacZ). Here we used these mice to describe the developmental expression of Shadoo between 10.5 and 14.5 dpc. The observed pattern in specific embryonic cell lineages and in extra-embryonic tissues is consistent with the previously reported phenotype resulting from its knockdown.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 11/2011; 416(1-2):184-7. · 2.41 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two cases of unusual transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) were diagnosed on the same farm in ARQ/ARQ PrP sheep showing attributes of both bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and scrapie. These cases, UK-1 and UK-2, were investigated further by transmissions to wild-type and ovine transgenic mice. Lesion profiles (LP) on primary isolation and subpassage, incubation period (IP) of disease, PrP(Sc) immunohistochemical (IHC) deposition pattern and Western blot profiles were used to characterize the prions causing disease in these sheep. Results showed that both cases were compatible with scrapie. The presence of BSE was contraindicated by the following: LP on primary isolation in RIII and/or MR (modified RIII) mice; IP and LP after serial passage in wild-type mice; PrP(Sc) deposition pattern in wild-type mice; and IP and Western blot data in transgenic mice. Furthermore, immunohistochemistry (IHC) revealed that each case generated two distinct PrP(Sc) deposition patterns in both wild-type and transgenic mice, suggesting that two scrapie strains coexisted in the ovine hosts. Critically, these data confirmed the original differential IHC categorization that these UK-1 and UK-2 cases were not compatible with BSE.