A non-Q/N-rich prion domain of a foreign prion, [Het-s], can propagate as a prion in yeast.
ABSTRACT: Prions are self-propagating, infectious aggregates of misfolded proteins. The mammalian prion, PrP(Sc), causes fatal neurodegenerative disorders. Fungi also have prions. While yeast prions depend upon glutamine/asparagine (Q/N)-rich regions, the Podospora anserina HET-s and PrP prion proteins lack such sequences. Nonetheless, we show that the HET-s prion domain fused to GFP propagates as a prion in yeast. Analogously to native yeast prions, transient overexpression of the HET-s fusion induces ring-like aggregates that propagate in daughter cells as cytoplasmically inherited, detergent-resistant dot aggregates. Efficient dot propagation, but not ring formation, is dependent upon the Hsp104 chaperone. The yeast prion [PIN(+)] enhances HET-s ring formation, suggesting that prions with and without Q/N-rich regions interact. Finally, HET-s aggregates propagated in yeast are infectious when introduced into Podospora. Taken together, these results demonstrate prion propagation in a truly foreign host. Since yeast can host non-Q/N-rich prions, such native yeast prions may exist.
Project description:Various proteins, like the infectious yeast prions and the noninfectious human Huntingtin protein (with expanded polyQ), depend on a Gln or Asn (QN)-rich region for amyloid formation. Other prions, e.g., mammalian PrP and the [Het-s] prion of Podospora anserina, although still able to form infectious amyloid aggregates, do not have QN-rich regions. Furthermore, [Het-s] and yeast prions appear to differ dramatically in their amyloid conformation. Despite these differences, a fusion of the Het-s prion domain to GFP (Het-sPrD-GFP) can propagate in yeast as a prion called [Het-s](y). We analyzed the properties of two divergent prions in yeast: [Het-s](y) and the native yeast prion [PSI(+)] (prion form of translational termination factor Sup35). Curiously, the induced appearance and transmission of [PSI(+)] and [Het-s](y) aggregates is remarkably similar. Overexpression of tagged prion protein (Sup35-GFP or Het-sPrD-GFP) in nonprion cells gives rise to peripheral, and later internal, ring/mesh-like aggregates. The cells with these ring-like aggregates give rise to daughters with one (perivacuolar) or two (perivacuolar and juxtanuclear) dot-like aggregates per cell. These line, ring, mesh, and dot aggregates are not really the transmissible prion species and should only be regarded as phenotypic markers of the presence of the prions. Both [PSI(+)] and [Het-s](y) first appear in daughters as numerous tiny dot-like aggregates, and both require the endocytic protein, Sla2, for ring formation, but not propagation.
Project description:Prions are protein-based infectious entities associated with fatal brain diseases in animals, but also modify a range of host-cell phenotypes in the budding yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Many questions remain about the evolution and biology of prions. Although several functionally distinct prion-forming proteins exist in S. cerevisiae, [HET-s] of Podospora anserina is the only other known fungal prion. Here we investigated prion-like, protein-based epigenetic transmission in the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe. We show that S. pombe cells can support the formation and maintenance of the prion form of the S. cerevisiae Sup35 translation factor [PSI+], and that the formation and propagation of these Sup35 aggregates is inhibited by guanidine hydrochloride, indicating commonalities in prion propagation machineries in these evolutionary diverged yeasts. A proteome-wide screen identified the Ctr4 copper transporter subunit as a putative prion with a predicted prion-like domain. Overexpression of the ctr4 gene resulted in large Ctr4 protein aggregates that were both detergent and proteinase-K resistant. Cells carrying such [CTR+] aggregates showed increased sensitivity to oxidative stress, and this phenotype could be transmitted to aggregate-free [ctr-] cells by transformation with [CTR+] cell extracts. Moreover, this [CTR+] phenotype was inherited in a non-Mendelian manner following mating with naïve [ctr-] cells, but intriguingly the [CTR+] phenotype was not eliminated by guanidine-hydrochloride treatment. Thus, Ctr4 exhibits multiple features diagnostic of other fungal prions and is the first example of a prion in fission yeast. These findings suggest that transmissible protein-based determinants of traits may be more widespread among fungi.
Project description:The chaperones of the ClpB/HSP100 family play a central role in thermotolerance in bacteria, plants, and fungi by ensuring solubilization of heat-induced protein aggregates. In addition in yeast, Hsp104 was found to be required for prion propagation. Herein, we analyze the role of Podospora anserina Hsp104 (PaHsp104) in the formation and propagation of the [Het-s] prion. We show that DeltaPaHsp104 strains propagate [Het-s], making [Het-s] the first native fungal prion to be propagated in the absence of Hsp104. Nevertheless, we found that [Het-s]-propagon numbers, propagation rate, and spontaneous emergence are reduced in a DeltaPaHsp104 background. In addition, inactivation of PaHsp104 leads to severe meiotic instability of [Het-s] and abolishes its meiotic drive activity. Finally, we show that DeltaPaHSP104 strains are less susceptible than wild type to infection by exogenous recombinant HET-s(218-289) prion amyloids. Like [URE3] and [PIN(+)] in yeast but unlike [PSI(+)], [Het-s] is not cured by constitutive PaHsp104 overexpression. The observed effects of PaHsp104 inactivation are consistent with the described role of Hsp104 in prion aggregate shearing in yeast. However, Hsp104-dependency appears less stringent in P. anserina than in yeast; presumably because in Podospora prion propagation occurs in a syncitium.
Project description:The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a valuable model system for studying prion-prion interactions as it contains multiple prion proteins. A recent study from our laboratory showed that the existence of Swi1 prion ([SWI(+)]) and overproduction of Swi1 can have strong impacts on the formation of 2 other extensively studied yeast prions, [PSI(+)] and [PIN(+)] ([RNQ(+)]) (Genetics, Vol. 197, 685-700). We showed that a single yeast cell is capable of harboring at least 3 heterologous prion elements and these prions can influence each other's appearance positively and/or negatively. We also showed that during the de novo [PSI(+)] formation process upon Sup35 overproduction, the aggregation patterns of a preexisting inducer ([RNQ(+)] or [SWI(+)]) can undergo significant remodeling from stably transmitted dot-shaped aggregates to aggregates that co-localize with the newly formed Sup35 aggregates that are ring/ribbon/rod- shaped. Such co-localization disappears once the newly formed [PSI(+)] prion stabilizes. Our finding provides strong evidence supporting the "cross-seeding" model for prion-prion interactions and confirms earlier reports that the interactions among different prions and their prion proteins mostly occur at the initiation stages of prionogenesis. Our results also highlight a complex prion interaction network in yeast. We believe that elucidating the mechanism underlying the yeast prion-prion interaction network will not only provide insight into the process of prion de novo generation and propagation in yeast but also shed light on the mechanisms that govern protein misfolding, aggregation, and amyloidogenesis in higher eukaryotes.
Project description:Prions are infectious proteins that cause fatal diseases in mammals. Prions have also been found in fungi, but studies on their role in nature are scarce. The proposed biological function of fungal prions is debated and varies from detrimental to benign or even beneficial. [Het-s] is a prion of the fungus Podospora anserina. The het-s locus exists as two antagonistic alleles that constitute an allorecognition system: the het-s allele encoding the protein variant capable of prion formation and the het-S allele encoding a protein variant that cannot form a prion. We document here that het-s alleles, capable of prion formation, are nearly twice as frequent as het-S alleles in a natural population of 112 individuals. Then, we report a 92% prevalence of [Het-s] prion infection among the het-s isolates and find evidence of the role of the [Het-s]/het-S allorecognition system on the incidence of infection by a deleterious senescence plasmid. We explain the het-s/het-S allele ratios by the existence of two selective forces operating at different levels. We propose that during the somatic stage, the role of [Het-s]/HET-S in allorecognition leads to frequency-dependent selection for which an equilibrated frequency would be optimal. However, in the sexual cycle, the [Het-s] prion causes meiotic drive favoring the het-s allele. Our findings indicate that [Het-s] is a selected and, therefore, widespread prion whose activity as selfish genetic element is counteracted by balancing selection for allorecognition polymorphism.
Project description:Prions are believed to be infectious, self-propagating polymers of otherwise soluble, host-encoded proteins. This concept is now strongly supported by the recent findings that amyloid fibrils of recombinant prion proteins from yeast, Podospora anserina and mammals can induce prion phenotypes in the corresponding hosts. However, the structural basis of prion infectivity remains largely elusive because acquisition of atomic resolution structural properties of amyloid fibrils represents a largely unsolved technical challenge. HET-s, the prion protein of P. anserina, contains a carboxy-terminal prion domain comprising residues 218-289. Amyloid fibrils of HET-s(218-289) are necessary and sufficient for the induction and propagation of prion infectivity. Here, we have used fluorescence studies, quenched hydrogen exchange NMR and solid-state NMR to determine the sequence-specific positions of amyloid fibril secondary structure elements of HET-s(218-289). This approach revealed four beta-strands constituted by two pseudo-repeat sequences, each forming a beta-strand-turn-beta-strand motif. By using a structure-based mutagenesis approach, we show that this conformation is the functional and infectious entity of the HET-s prion. These results correlate distinct structural elements with prion infectivity.
Project description:The [Het-s] prion of the fungus Podospora anserina is a well-studied model system to elucidate the action of prions and beyond. The [Het-s] prion works as an activation trigger of a cell death execution protein termed HET-S. Amyloid transconformation of the prion-forming region of HET-S induces activation of its pore-forming cell death execution HeLo domain. The prion motif functions in a signal transduction process by which a nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptor termed NWD2 controls the HET-S cell death effector. This prion motif thus corresponds to a functional amyloid motif, allowing a conformational crosstalk between homologous motif domains in signal transduction processes that appears to be widespread from the fungal to the mammalian animal kingdoms. This review aims to establish a structure-activity relationship of the HET-S/s prion system and sets it in the context of its wider biological significance.
Project description:A prion is an infectious protein horizontally transmitting a disease or trait without a required nucleic acid. Yeast and fungal prions are nonchromosomal genes composed of protein, generally an altered form of a protein that catalyzes the same alteration of the protein. Yeast prions are thus transmitted both vertically (as genes composed of protein) and horizontally (as infectious proteins, or prions). Formation of amyloids (linear ordered ?-sheet-rich protein aggregates with ?-strands perpendicular to the long axis of the filament) underlies most yeast and fungal prions, and a single prion protein can have any of several distinct self-propagating amyloid forms with different biological properties (prion variants). Here we review the mechanism of faithful templating of protein conformation, the biological roles of these prions, and their interactions with cellular chaperones, the Btn2 and Cur1 aggregate-handling systems, and other cellular factors governing prion generation and propagation. Human amyloidoses include the PrP-based prion conditions and many other, more common amyloid-based diseases, several of which show prion-like features. Yeast prions increasingly are serving as models for the understanding and treatment of many mammalian amyloidoses. Patients with different clinical pictures of the same amyloidosis may be the equivalent of yeasts with different prion variants.
Project description:The concept of prion is applied to protein modules that share the ability to switch between at least two conformational states and transmit one of these through intermolecular interaction and change of conformation. Although much progress has been achieved through the understanding of prions from organisms such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Podospora anserina, or Aplysia californica, the criteria that qualify a protein module as a prion are still unclear. In addition, the functionality of known prion domains fails to provide clues to understand the first identified prion, the mammalian infectious prion protein, PrP. To address these issues, we generated mammalian cellular models of expression of the C-terminal two helices of PrP, H2 and H3, which have been hypothesized, among other models, to hold the replication and conversion properties of the infectious PrP. We found that the H2H3 domain is an independent folding unit that undergoes glycosylations and glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchoring similar to full-length PrP. Surprisingly, in some conditions the normally folded H2H3 was able to systematically go through a conversion process and generate insoluble proteinase K-resistant aggregates. This structural switch involves the assembly of amyloid structures that bind thioflavin S and oligomers that are reactive to A11 antibody, which specifically detects protein oligomers from neurological disorders. Overall, we show that H2H3 is a conformational switch in a cellular context and is thus suggested to be a candidate for the conversion domain of PrP.
Project description:Only a few cell lines have been infected with prions, offering limited genetic diversity and sensitivity to several strains. Here we report that cultured neurospheres expressing cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) can be infected with prions. Neurosphere lines isolated from the brains of mice at embryonic day 13-15 grow as aggregates and contain CNS stem cells. We produced neurosphere cultures from FVB/NCr (FVB) mice, from transgenic (Tg) FVB mice that overexpress mouse PrP-A (Tg4053), and from congenic FVB mice with a targeted null mutation in the PrP gene (Prnp(0/0)) and incubated them with the Rocky Mountain Laboratory prion strain. While monitoring the levels of disease-causing PrP (PrP(Sc)) at each passage, we observed a dramatic rise in PrP(Sc) levels with time in the Tg4053 neurosphere cells, whereas the level of PrP(Sc) decayed to undetectable levels in cell cultures lacking PrP. PrP(Sc) levels in cultures from FVB mice initially declined but then increased with passage. Prions produced in culture were transmissible to mice and produced disease pathology. Intracellular aggregates of PrP(Sc) were present in cells from infected cultures. The susceptibility of neurosphere cultures to prions mirrored that of the mice from which they were derived. Neurosphere lines from Tg4053 mice provide a sensitive in vitro bioassay for mouse prions; neurosphere lines from other Tg mice overexpressing PrP might be used to assay prions from other species, including humans.