Introducing a Rigid Loop Structure from Deer into Mouse Prion Protein Increases Its Propensity for Misfolding In Vitro
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Prion diseases are fatal neurodegenerative disorders characterized by misfolding of the cellular prion protein (PrPc) into the disease-associated isoform (PrPSc) that has increased β-sheet content and partial resistance to proteolytic digestion. Prion diseases from different mammalian species have varying propensities for transmission upon exposure of an uninfected host to the infectious agent. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a highly transmissible prion disease that affects free ranging and farmed populations of cervids including deer, elk and moose, as well as other mammals in experimental settings. The molecular mechanisms allowing CWD to maintain comparatively high transmission rates have not been determined. Previous work has identified a unique structural feature in cervid PrP, a rigid loop between β-sheet 2 and α-helix 2 on the surface of the protein. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that the rigid loop has a direct influence on the misfolding process. The rigid loop was introduced into murine PrP as the result of two amino acid substitutions: S170N and N174T. Wild-type and rigid loop murine PrP were expressed in E. coli and purified. Misfolding propensity was compared for the two proteins using biochemical techniques and cell free misfolding and conversion systems. Murine PrP with a rigid loop misfolded in cell free systems with greater propensity than wild type murine PrP. In a lipid-based conversion assay, rigid loop PrP converted to a PK resistant, aggregated isoform at lower concentrations than wild-type PrP. Using both proteins as substrates in real time quaking-induced conversion, rigid loop PrP adopted a misfolded isoform more readily than wild type PrP. Taken together, these findings may help explain the high transmission rates observed for CWD within cervids.
(2013) Leah M. Kyle, Theodore R. John, Hermann M. Schätzl, Randolph V. Lewis Introducing a rigid loop structure from deer into mouse prion protein increases its propensity for misfolding in vitro, Plos One 8(6): e66715. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066715