Caister Academic Press

CIMB Abstract

Curr. Issues Mol. Biol. (2000) 2: 95-101.

Formation of Protease-Resistant Prion Protein in Cell-Free Systems

Byron Caughey

In transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases, the endogenous protease-sensitive prion protein (PrP-sen) of the host is converted to an abnormal pathogenic form that has a characteristic partial protease resistance (PrP-res). Studies with cell-free reactions indicate that the PrP-res itself can directly induce this conversion of PrP-sen. This PrP-res induced conversion reaction is highly specific in ways that might account at the molecular level for TSE species barriers, polymorphism barriers, and strains. Not only has this reaction been observed using mostly purified PrP-sen and PrP-res reactants, but also in TSE-infected brain slices. The conversion mechanism appears to involve both the binding of PrP-sen to polymeric PrP-res and a conformational change that results in incorporation into the PrP-res polymer.

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