[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During prion infection, the normal, protease-sensitive conformation of prion protein (PrP(C)) is converted via seeded polymerization to an abnormal, infectious conformation with greatly increased protease-resistance (PrP(Sc)). In vitro, protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) uses PrP(Sc) in prion-infected brain homogenates as an initiating seed to convert PrP(C) and trigger the self-propagation of PrP(Sc) over many cycles of amplification. While PMCA reactions produce high levels of protease-resistant PrP, the infectious titer is often lower than that of brain-derived PrP(Sc). More recently, PMCA techniques using bacterially derived recombinant PrP (rPrP) in the presence of lipid and RNA but in the absence of any starting PrP(Sc) seed have been used to generate infectious prions that cause disease in wild-type mice with relatively short incubation times. These data suggest that lipid and/or RNA act as cofactors to facilitate the de novo formation of high levels of prion infectivity. Using rPrP purified by two different techniques, we generated a self-propagating protease-resistant rPrP molecule that, regardless of the amount of RNA and lipid used, had a molecular mass, protease resistance and insolubility similar to that of PrP(Sc). However, we were unable to detect prion infectivity in any of our reactions using either cell-culture or animal bioassays. These results demonstrate that the ability to self-propagate into a protease-resistant insoluble conformer is not unique to infectious PrP molecules. They suggest that the presence of RNA and lipid cofactors may facilitate the spontaneous refolding of PrP into an infectious form while also allowing the de novo formation of self-propagating, but non-infectious, rPrP-res.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(7):e71081. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mammalian prions are thought to consist of misfolded aggregates (protease-resistant isoform of the prion protein [PrP(res)]) of the cellular prion protein (PrP(C)). Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) can be induced in animals inoculated with recombinant PrP (rPrP) amyloid fibrils lacking mammalian posttranslational modifications, but this induction is inefficient in hamsters or transgenic mice overexpressing glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored PrP(C). Here we show that TSE can be initiated by inoculation of misfolded rPrP into mice that express wild-type (wt) levels of PrP(C) and that synthetic prion strain propagation and selection can be affected by GPI anchoring of the host's PrP(C). To create prions de novo, we fibrillized mouse rPrP in the absence of molecular cofactors, generating fibrils with a PrP(res)-like protease-resistant banding profile. These fibrils induced the formation of PrP(res) deposits in transgenic mice coexpressing wt and GPI-anchorless PrP(C) (wt/GPI(-)) at a combined level comparable to that of PrP(C) expression in wt mice. Secondary passage into mice expressing wt, GPI(-), or wt plus GPI(-) PrP(C) induced TSE disease with novel clinical, histopathological, and biochemical phenotypes. Contrary to laboratory-adapted mouse scrapie strains, the synthetic prion agents exhibited a preference for conversion of GPI(-) PrP(C) and, in one case, caused disease only in GPI(-) mice. Our data show that novel TSE agents can be generated de novo solely from purified mouse rPrP after amplification in mice coexpressing normal levels of wt and anchorless PrP(C). These observations provide insight into the minimal elements required to create prions in vitro and suggest that the PrP(C) GPI anchor can modulate the propagation of synthetic TSE strains.
Journal of Virology 08/2012; 86(21):11763-78. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prion diseases or transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases are typically characterized by deposition of abnormally folded partially protease-resistant host-derived prion protein (PrPres), which is associated with activated glia and increased release of cytokines. This neuroinflammatory response may play a role in transmissible spongiform encephalopathy pathogenesis. We previously reported that brain homogenates from prion-infected mice induced cytokine protein release in primary astroglial and microglial cell cultures. Here we measured cytokine release by cultured glial cells to determine what factors in infected brain contributed to activation of microglia and astroglia. In assays analyzing IL-12p40 and CCL2 (MCP-1), glial cells were not stimulated in vitro by either PrPres purified from infected mouse brains or prion protein amyloid fibrils produced in vitro. However, significant glial stimulation was induced by clarified scrapie brain homogenates lacking PrPres. This stimulation was greatly reduced both by antibody to cyclophilin A (CyPA), a known mediator of inflammation in peripheral tissues, and by cyclosporine A, a CyPA inhibitor. In biochemical studies, purified truncated CyPA fragments stimulated a pattern of cytokine release by microglia and astroglia similar to that induced by scrapie-infected brain homogenates, whereas purified full-length CyPA was a poor stimulator. This requirement for CyPA truncation was not reported in previous studies of stimulation of peripheral macrophages, endothelial cell cardiomyocytes, and vascular smooth muscle cells. Therefore, truncated CyPA detected in brain following prion infection may have an important role in the activation of brain-derived primary astroglia and microglia in prion disease and perhaps other neurodegenerative or neuroinflammatory diseases.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 12/2011; 287(7):4628-39. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prion diseases are neurodegenerative disorders associated with the accumulation of an abnormal isoform of the mammalian prion protein (PrP). Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) has previously been used to show that the conformation of aggregated, infectious PrP (PrP(Sc) ) varies between prion strains and these unique conformations may determine strain-specific disease phenotypes. However, the relative amounts of α-helix, β-sheet and other secondary structures have not always been consistent between studies, suggesting that other proteins might be confounding the analysis of PrP(Sc) secondary structure. We have used FTIR and LC-MS/MS to analyze enriched PrP(Sc) from mouse and hamster prion strains both before and after the removal of protein contaminants that commonly co-purify with PrP(Sc) . Our data show that non-PrP proteins do contribute to absorbances that have been associated with α-helical, loop, turn and β-sheet structures attributed to PrP(Sc) . The major contaminant, the α-helical protein ferritin, absorbs strongly at 1652 cm(-1) in the FTIR spectrum associated with PrP(Sc) . However, even the removal of more than 99% of the ferritin from PrP(Sc) did not completely abolish absorbance at 1652 cm(-1) . Our results show that contaminating proteins alter the FTIR spectrum attributed to PrP(Sc) and suggest that the α-helical, loop/turn and β-sheet secondary structure that remains following their removal are derived from PrP(Sc) itself.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aspartate pathway of amino acid biosynthesis is essential for all microbial life but is absent in mammals. Characterizing the enzyme-catalyzed reactions in this pathway can identify new protein targets for the development of antibiotics with unique modes of action. The enzyme aspartate β-semialdehyde dehydrogenase (ASADH) catalyzes an early branch point reaction in the aspartate pathway. Kinetic, mutagenic, and structural studies of ASADH from various microbial species have been used to elucidate mechanistic details and to identify essential amino acids involved in substrate binding, catalysis, and enzyme regulation. Important structural and functional differences have been found between ASADHs isolated from these bacterial and fungal organisms, opening the possibility for developing species-specific antimicrobial agents that target this family of enzymes.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases are characterized by the accumulation of an aggregated isoform of the prion protein (PrP). This pathological isoform, termed PrP(Sc), appears to be the primary component of the TSE infectious agent or prion. However, it is not clear to what extent other protein cofactors may be involved in TSE pathogenesis or whether there are PrP(Sc)-associated proteins which help to determine TSE strain-specific disease phenotypes. We enriched PrP(Sc) from the brains of mice infected with either 22L or Chandler TSE strains and examined the protein content of these samples using nanospray LC-MS/MS. These samples were compared with "mock" PrP(Sc) preparations from uninfected brains. PrP was the major component of the infected samples and ferritin was the most abundant impurity. Mock enrichments contained no detectable PrP but did contain a significant amount of ferritin. Of the total proteins identified, 32% were found in both mock and infected samples. The similarities between PrP(Sc) samples from 22L and Chandler TSE strains suggest that the non-PrP(Sc) protein components found in standard enrichment protocols are not strain specific.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs or prion diseases) are a rare group of invariably fatal neurodegenerative disorders that affect humans and other mammals. TSEs are protein misfolding diseases that involve the accumulation of an abnormally aggregated form of the normal host prion protein (PrP). They are unique among protein misfolding disorders in that they are transmissible and have different strains of infectious agents that are associated with unique phenotypes in vivo. A wealth of biological and biophysical evidence now suggests that the molecular basis for prion diseases may be encoded by protein conformation. The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the existing structural information for PrP within the context of what is known about the biology of prion disease.
Current Opinion in Structural Biology 02/2009; 19(1):14-22. · 8.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hemin (iron protoporphyrin IX) is a crucial component of many physiological processes acting either as a prosthetic group or as an intracellular messenger. Some unnatural, synthetic porphyrins have potent anti-scrapie activity and can interact with normal prion protein (PrPC). These observations raised the possibility that hemin, as a natural porphyrin, is a physiological ligand for PrPC. Accordingly, we evaluated PrPC interactions with hemin. When hemin (3-10 microM) was added to the medium of cultured cells, clusters of PrPC formed on the cell surface, and the detergent solubility of PrPC decreased. The addition of hemin also induced PrPC internalization and turnover. The ability of hemin to bind directly to PrPC was demonstrated by hemin-agarose affinity chromatography and UV-visible spectroscopy. Multiple hemin molecules bound primarily to the N-terminal third of PrPC, with reduced binding to PrPC lacking residues 34-94. These hemin-PrPC interactions suggest that PrPC may participate in hemin homeostasis, sensing, and/or uptake and that hemin might affect PrPC functions.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 01/2008; 282(50):36525-33. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The scrapie prion protein isoform, PrPSc, is a prion-associated marker that seeds the conformational conversion and polymerization of normal protease-sensitive prion protein (PrP-sen). This seeding activity allows ultrasensitive detection of PrPSc using cyclical sonicated amplification (PMCA) reactions and brain homogenate as a source of PrP-sen. Here we describe a much faster seeded polymerization method (rPrP-PMCA) which detects >or=50 ag of hamster PrPSc (approximately 0.003 lethal dose) within 2-3 d. This technique uses recombinant hamster PrP-sen, which, unlike brain-derived PrP-sen, can be easily concentrated, mutated and synthetically tagged. We generated protease-resistant recombinant PrP fibrils that differed from spontaneously initiated fibrils in their proteolytic susceptibility and by their infrared spectra. This assay could discriminate between scrapie-infected and uninfected hamsters using 2-microl aliquots of cerebral spinal fluid. This method should facilitate the development of rapid, ultrasensitive prion assays and diagnostic tests, in addition to aiding fundamental studies of structure and mechanism of PrPSc formation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyloid fibrils have been classically defined as linear, nonbranched polymeric proteins with a cross beta-sheet structure and the ability to alter the optical properties of the amyloid-specific dye Congo Red. Mounting evidence suggests that soluble oligomeric peptide assemblies approximately 2-20 nm in diameter are critical intermediates in amyloid formation. Using a pathogenic prion protein peptide comprised of residues 23-144, we demonstrate that, under quiescent but not agitated conditions, much larger globular assemblies up to 1 mum in diameter are made. These globules precede fibril formation and directly interact with growing fibril bundles. Fibrils made via these large spherical peptide assemblies displayed a remarkable diversity of ultrastructural features. Fibrillization of the Abeta1-40 peptide under similar conditions yielded similar results, suggesting a mechanism of general amyloid formation that can proceed through intermediates much larger than those previously described. Our data suggest that simply changing the physical microenvironment can profoundly influence the mechanism of amyloid formation and yield fibrils with novel ultrastructural properties.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A central feature of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE or prion diseases) involves the conversion of a normal, protease-sensitive glycoprotein termed prion protein (PrP-sen) into a pro-tease-resistant form, termed PrP-res. The N terminus of PrP-sen has five copies of a repeating eight amino acid sequence (octapeptide repeat). The presence of one to nine extra copies of this motif is associated with a heritable form of Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans. An increasing number of octapeptide repeats correlates with earlier CJD onset, suggesting that the rate at which PrP-sen misfolds into PrP-res may be influenced by these mutations. In order to determine if octapeptide repeat insertions influence the rate at which PrP-res is formed, we used a hamster PrP amyloid-forming peptide (residues 23-144) into which two to 10 extra octapeptide repeats were inserted. The spontaneous formation of protease-resistant PrP amyloid from these peptides was more rapid in response to an increased number of octapeptide repeats. Furthermore, experiments using full-length glycosylated hamster PrP-sen demonstrated that PrP-res formation also occurred more rapidly from PrP-sen molecules expressing 10 extra copies of the octapeptide repeat. The rate increase for PrP-res formation did not appear to be due to any influence of the octapeptide repeat region on PrP structure, but rather to more rapid binding between PrP molecules. Our data from both models support the hypothesis that extra octapeptide repeats in PrP increase the rate at which protease resistant PrP is formed which in turn may affect the rate of disease onset in familial forms of CJD.
Protein Science 04/2006; 15(3):609-19. · 2.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aspartate-beta-semialdehyde dehydrogenase (ASADH) catalyzes the reductive dephosphorylation of beta-aspartyl phosphate to L-aspartate-beta-semialdehyde in the aspartate biosynthetic pathway. This pathway is not found in humans or other eukaryotic organisms, yet is required for the production of threonine, isoleucine, methionine and lysine in most microorganisms. The mechanism of this enzyme has been examined through the structures of two active-site mutants of ASADH from Haemophilus influenzae. Replacement of the enzyme active-site cysteine with serine (C136S) leads to a dramatic loss of catalytic activity caused by the expected decrease in nucleophilicity, but also by a change in the orientation of the serine hydroxyl group relative to the cysteine thiolate. In contrast, in the H277N active-site mutant the introduced amide is oriented in virtually the same position as that of the histidine imidazole ring. However, a shift in the position of the bound reaction intermediate to accommodate this shorter asparagine side chain, coupled with the inability of this introduced amide to serve as a proton acceptor, results in a 100-fold decrease in the catalytic efficiency of H277N relative to the native enzyme. These mutant enzymes have the same overall fold and high structural identity to native ASADH. However, small perturbations in the positioning of essential catalytic groups or reactive intermediates have dramatic effects on catalytic efficiency.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The reversible dephosphorylation of beta-aspartyl phosphate to L-aspartate-beta-semialdehyde (ASA) in the aspartate biosynthetic pathway is catalyzed by aspartate-beta-semialdehyde dehydrogenase (ASADH). The product of this reaction is a key intermediate in the biosynthesis of diaminopimelic acid, an integral component of bacterial cell walls and a metabolic precursor of lysine and also a precursor in the biosynthesis of threonine, isoleucine and methionine. The structures of selected Haemophilus influenzae ASADH mutants were determined in order to evaluate the residues that are proposed to interact with the substrates ASA or phosphate. The substrate Km values are not altered by replacement of either an active-site arginine (Arg270) with a lysine or a putative phosphate-binding group (Lys246) with an arginine. However, the interaction of phosphate with the enzyme is adversely affected by replacement of Arg103 with lysine and is significantly altered when a neutral leucine is substituted at this position. A conservative Glu243 to aspartate mutant does not alter either ASA or phosphate binding, but instead results in an eightfold increase in the Km for the coenzyme NADP. Each of the mutations is shown to cause specific subtle active-site structural alterations and each of these changes results in decreases in catalytic efficiency ranging from significant (approximately 3% native activity) to substantial (<0.1% native activity).
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aspartoacylase (ASPA; EC 18.104.22.168) catalyzes deacetylation of N-acetylaspartate (NAA) to generate free acetate in the central nervous system (CNS). Mutations in the gene coding ASPA cause Canavan disease (CD), an autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disease that results in death before 10 years of age. The pathogenesis of CD remains unclear. Our working hypothesis is that deficiency in the supply of the NAA-derived acetate leads to inadequate lipid/myelin synthesis during development, resulting in CD. To explore the localization of ASPA in the CNS, we used double-label immunohistochemistry for ASPA and several cell-specific markers. A polyclonal antibody was generated in rabbit against mouse recombinant ASPA, which reacted with a single band (approximately 37 kD) on Western blots of rat brain homogenate. ASPA colocalized throughout the brain with CC1, a marker for oligodendrocytes, with 92-98% of CC1-positive cells also reactive with the ASPA antibody. Many cells were labeled with ASPA antibodies in white matter, including cells in the corpus callosum and cerebellar white matter. Relatively fewer cells were labeled in gray matter, including cerebral cortex. No astrocytes were labeled for ASPA. Neurons were unstained in the forebrain, although small numbers of large reticular and motor neurons were faintly to moderately stained in the brainstem and spinal cord. Many ascending and descending neuronal fibers were moderately stained for ASPA in the medulla and spinal cord. Microglial-like cells showed faint to moderate staining with the ASPA antibodies throughout the brain by the avidin/biotin-peroxidase detection method, and colocalization studies with labeled lectins confirmed their identity as microglia. The predominant immunoreactivity in oligodendrocytes is consistent with the proposed role of ASPA in myelination, supporting the case for acetate supplementation as an immediate and inexpensive therapy for infants diagnosed with CD.
The Journal of Comparative Neurology 06/2004; 472(3):318-29. · 3.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The structural analysis of an enzymatic reaction intermediate affords a unique opportunity to study a catalytic mechanism in extraordinary detail. Here we present the structure of a tetrahedral intermediate in the catalytic cycle of aspartate-beta-semialdehyde dehydrogenase (ASADH) from Haemophilus influenzae at 2.0-A resolution. ASADH is not found in humans, yet its catalytic activity is required for the biosynthesis of essential amino acids in plants and microorganisms. Diaminopimelic acid, also formed by this enzymatic pathway, is an integral component of bacterial cell walls, thus making ASADH an attractive target for the development of new antibiotics. This enzyme is able to capture the substrates aspartate-beta-semialdehyde and phosphate as an active complex that does not complete the catalytic cycle in the absence of NADP. A distinctive binding pocket in which the hemithioacetal oxygen of the bound substrate is stabilized by interaction with a backbone amide group dictates the R stereochemistry of the tetrahedral intermediate. This pocket, reminiscent of the oxyanion hole found in serine proteases, is completed through hydrogen bonding to the bound phosphate substrate.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2003; 100(22):12613-7. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Aspartoacylase catalyzes the deacetylation of N-acetylaspartic acid (NAA) in the brain to produce acetate and L-aspartate. An aspartoacylase deficiency, with concomitant accumulation of NAA, is responsible for Canavan disease, a lethal autosomal recessive disorder. To examine the mechanism of this enzyme the genes encoding murine and human aspartoacylase were cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli. A significant portion of the enzyme is expressed as soluble protein, with the remainder found as inclusion bodies. A convenient enzyme-coupled continuous spectrophotometric assay has been developed for measuring aspartoacylase activity. Kinetic parameters were determined with the human enzyme for NAA and for selected N-acyl analogs that demonstrate relaxed substrate specificity with regard to the nature of the acyl group. The clinically relevant E285A mutant reveals an altered enzyme with poor stability and barely detectable activity, while a more conservative E285D substitution leads to only fivefold lower activity than native aspartoacylase.
Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics 06/2003; 413(1):1-8. · 3.37 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: L-Aspartate-beta-semialdehyde dehydrogenase (ASADH) catalyzes the reductive dephosphorylation of beta-aspartyl phosphate to L-aspartate-beta-semialdehyde in the aspartate biosynthetic pathway of plants and micro-organisms. The aspartate pathway produces fully one-quarter of the naturally occurring amino acids, but is not found in humans or other eukaryotic organisms, making ASADH an attractive target for the development of new antibacterial, fungicidal, or herbicidal compounds. We have determined the structure of ASADH from Vibrio cholerae in two states; the apoenzyme and a complex with NADP, and a covalently bound active site inhibitor, S-methyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide. Upon binding the inhibitor undergoes an enzyme-catalyzed reductive demethylation leading to a covalently bound cysteine that is observed in the complex structure. The enzyme is a functional homodimer, with extensive intersubunit contacts and a symmetrical 4-amino acid bridge linking the active site residues in adjacent subunits that could serve as a communication channel. The active site is essentially preformed, with minimal differences in active site conformation in the apoenzyme relative to the ternary inhibitor complex. The conformational changes that do occur result primarily from NADP binding, and are localized to the repositioning of two surface loops located on the rim at opposite sides of the NADP cleft.
Protein Science 02/2003; 12(1):27-33. · 2.74 Impact Factor