ABSTRACT: Prions arise when the cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) undergoes a self-propagating conformational change; the resulting infectious conformer is designated PrP(Sc). Frequently, PrP(Sc) is protease-resistant but protease-sensitive (s) prions have been isolated in humans and other animals. We report here that protease-sensitive, synthetic prions were generated in vitro during polymerization of recombinant (rec) PrP into amyloid fibers. In 22 independent experiments, recPrP amyloid preparations, but not recPrP monomers or oligomers, transmitted disease to transgenic mice (n = 164), denoted Tg9949 mice, that overexpress N-terminally truncated PrP. Tg9949 control mice (n = 174) did not spontaneously generate prions although they were prone to late-onset spontaneous neurological dysfunction. When synthetic prion isolates from infected Tg9949 mice were serially transmitted in the same line of mice, they exhibited sPrP(Sc) and caused neurodegeneration. Interestingly, these protease-sensitive prions did not shorten the life span of Tg9949 mice despite causing extensive neurodegeneration. We inoculated three synthetic prion isolates into Tg4053 mice that overexpress full-length PrP; Tg4053 mice are not prone to developing spontaneous neurological dysfunction. The synthetic prion isolates caused disease in 600-750 days in Tg4053 mice, which exhibited sPrP(Sc). These novel synthetic prions demonstrate that conformational changes in wild-type PrP can produce mouse prions composed exclusively of sPrP(Sc).
Project description:Polymerization of recombinant prion protein (recPrP), which was produced in bacteria, into amyloid fibers was accompanied by the acquisition of prion infectivity. We report here that partially purified preparations of prions seed the polymerization of recPrP into amyloid as detected by a fluorescence shift in the dye Thioflavin T. Our amyloid seeding assay (ASA) detected PrP(Sc), the sole component of the prion, in brain samples from humans with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, as well as in rodents with experimental prion disease. The ASA detected a variety of prion strains passaged in both mice and hamsters. The sensitivity of the ASA varied with strain type; for hamster Sc237 prions, the limit of detection was approximately 1 fg. Some prion strains consist largely of protease-sensitive PrP(Sc) (sPrP(Sc)), and these strains were readily detected by ASA. Our studies show that the ASA provides an alternative methodology for detecting both sPrP(Sc) and protease-resistant PrP(Sc) that does not rely on protease digestion or immunodetection.
Project description:The mammalian prions replicate by converting cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) into pathogenic conformational isoform (PrP(Sc)). Variations in prions, which cause different disease phenotypes, are referred to as strains. The mechanism of high-fidelity replication of prion strains in the absence of nucleic acid remains unsolved. We investigated the impact of different conformational characteristics of PrP(Sc) on conversion of PrP(C) in vitro using PrP(Sc) seeds from the most frequent human prion disease worldwide, the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD). The conversion potency of a broad spectrum of distinct sCJD prions was governed by the level, conformation, and stability of small oligomers of the protease-sensitive (s) PrP(Sc). The smallest most potent prions present in sCJD brains were composed only of?20 monomers of PrP(Sc). The tight correlation between conversion potency of small oligomers of human sPrP(Sc) observed in vitro and duration of the disease suggests that sPrP(Sc) conformers are an important determinant of prion strain characteristics that control the progression rate of the disease.
Project description:Infectious prions containing the pathogenic conformer of the mammalian prion protein (PrP(Sc)) can be produced de novo from a mixture of the normal conformer (PrP(C)) with RNA and lipid molecules. Recent reconstitution studies indicate that nucleic acids are not required for the propagation of mouse prions in vitro, suggesting the existence of an alternative prion propagation cofactor in brain tissue. However, the identity and functional properties of this unique cofactor are unknown. Here, we show by purification and reconstitution that the molecule responsible for the nuclease-resistant cofactor activity in brain is endogenous phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). Synthetic PE alone facilitates conversion of purified recombinant (rec)PrP substrate into infectious recPrP(Sc) molecules. Other phospholipids, including phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylinositol, and phosphatidylglycerol, were unable to facilitate recPrP(Sc) formation in the absence of RNA. PE facilitated the propagation of PrP(Sc) molecules derived from all four different animal species tested including mouse, suggesting that unlike RNA, PE is a promiscuous cofactor for PrP(Sc) formation in vitro. Phospholipase treatment abolished the ability of brain homogenate to reconstitute the propagation of both mouse and hamster PrP(Sc) molecules. Our results identify a single endogenous cofactor able to facilitate the formation of prions from multiple species in the absence of nucleic acids or other polyanions.
Project description:A conformational isoform of the mammalian prion protein (PrP(Sc)) is the sole component of the infectious pathogen that causes the prion diseases. We have obtained X-ray fiber diffraction patterns from infectious prions that show cross-beta diffraction: meridional intensity at 4.8 A resolution, indicating the presence of beta strands running approximately at right angles to the filament axis and characteristic of amyloid structure. Some of the patterns also indicated the presence of a repeating unit along the fiber axis, corresponding to four beta-strands. We found that recombinant (rec) PrP amyloid differs substantially from highly infectious brain-derived prions, both in structure as demonstrated by the diffraction data, and in heterogeneity as shown by electron microscopy. In addition to the strong 4.8 A meridional reflection, the recPrP amyloid diffraction is characterized by strong equatorial intensity at approximately 10.5 A, absent from brain-derived prions, and indicating the presence of stacked beta-sheets. Synthetic prions recovered from transgenic mice inoculated with recPrP amyloid displayed structural characteristics and homogeneity similar to those of naturally occurring prions. The relationship between the structural differences and prion infectivity is uncertain, but might be explained by any of several hypotheses: only a minority of recPrP amyloid possesses a replication-competent conformation, the majority of recPrP amyloid has to undergo a conformational maturation to acquire replication competency, or inhibitory forms of recPrP amyloid interfere with replication during the initial transmission.
Project description:Mammalian prions are unusual infectious agents, as they are thought to consist solely of aggregates of misfolded prion protein (PrP). Generation of synthetic prions, composed of recombinant PrP (recPrP) refolded into fibrils, has been utilised to address whether PrP aggregates are, indeed, infectious prions. In several reports, neurological disease similar to transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) has been described following inoculation and passage of various forms of fibrils in transgenic mice and hamsters. However, in studies described here, we show that inoculation of recPrP fibrils does not cause TSE disease, but, instead, seeds the formation of PrP amyloid plaques in PrP-P101L knock-in transgenic mice (101LL). Importantly, both WT-recPrP fibrils and 101L-recPrP fibrils can seed plaque formation, indicating that the fibrillar conformation, and not the primary sequence of PrP in the inoculum, is important in initiating seeding. No replication of infectious prions or TSE disease was observed following both primary inoculation and subsequent subpassage. These data, therefore, argue against recPrP fibrils being infectious prions and, instead, indicate that these pre-formed seeds are acting to accelerate the formation of PrP amyloid plaques in 101LL Tg mice. In addition, these data reproduce a phenotype which was previously observed in 101LL mice following inoculation with brain extract containing in vivo-generated PrP amyloid fibrils, which has not been shown for other synthetic prion models. These data are reminiscent of the "prion-like" spread of aggregated forms of the beta-amyloid peptide (A?), ?-synuclein and tau observed following inoculation of transgenic mice with pre-formed seeds of each misfolded protein. Hence, even when the protein is PrP, misfolding and aggregation do not reproduce the full clinicopathological phenotype of disease. The initiation and spread of protein aggregation in transgenic mouse lines following inoculation with pre-formed fibrils may, therefore, more closely resemble a seeded proteinopathy than an infectious TSE disease.
Project description:The pathogenic isoform (PrP(Sc)) of the host-encoded cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) is considered to be an infectious agent of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). The detailed mechanism by which the PrP(Sc) seed catalyzes the structural conversion of endogenous PrP(C) into nascent PrP(Sc) in vivo still remains unclear. Recent studies reveal that bacterially derived recombinant PrP (recPrP) can be used as a substrate for the in vitro generation of protease-resistant recPrP (recPrP(res)) by protein-misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA). These findings imply that PrP modifications with a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor and asparagine (N)-linked glycosylation are not necessary for the amplification and generation of recPrP(Sc) by PMCA. However, the biological properties of PrP(Sc) obtained by in vivo transmission of recPrP(res) are unique or different from those of PrP(Sc) used as the seed, indicating that the mechanisms mediated by these posttranslational modifications possibly participate in reproductive propagation of PrP(Sc). In the present study, using baculovirus-derived recombinant PrP (Bac-PrP), we demonstrated that Bac-PrP is useful as a PrP(C) substrate for amplification of the mouse scrapie prion strain Chandler, and PrP(Sc) that accumulated in mice inoculated with Bac-PrP(res) had biochemical and pathological properties very similar to those of the PrP(Sc) seed. Since Bac-PrP modified with a GPI anchor and brain homogenate of Prnp knockout mice were both required to generate Bac-PrP(res), the interaction of GPI-anchored PrP with factors in brain homogenates is essential for reproductive propagation of PrP(Sc). Therefore, the Bac-PMCA technique appears to be extremely beneficial for the comprehensive understanding of the GPI anchor-mediated stimulation pathway.
Project description:Prions are infectious proteins that possess multiple self-propagating structures. The information for strains and structural specific barriers appears to be contained exclusively in the folding of the pathological isoform, PrP(Sc). Many recent studies determined that de novo prion strains could be generated in vitro from the structural conversion of recombinant (rec) prion protein (PrP) into amyloidal structures. Our aim was to elucidate the conformational diversity of pathological recPrP amyloids and their biological activities, as well as to gain novel insights in characterizing molecular events involved in mammalian prion conversion and propagation. To this end we generated infectious materials that possess different conformational structures. Our methodology for the prion conversion of recPrP required only purified rec full-length mouse (Mo) PrP and common chemicals. Neither infected brain extracts nor amplified PrP(Sc) were used. Following two different in vitro protocols recMoPrP converted to amyloid fibrils without any seeding factor. Mouse hypothalamic GT1 and neuroblastoma N2a cell lines were infected with these amyloid preparations as fast screening methodology to characterize the infectious materials. Remarkably, a large number of amyloid preparations were able to induce the conformational change of endogenous PrPC to harbor several distinctive proteinase-resistant PrP forms. One such preparation was characterized in vivo habouring a synthetic prion with novel strain specified neuropathological and biochemical properties.
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.
Project description:Previous studies established that transmissible prion diseases could be induced by in vitro-produced recombinant prion protein (PrP) fibrils with structures that are fundamentally different from that of authentic PrP scrapie isoform (PrP(Sc)). To explain evolution of synthetic prions, a new mechanism referred to as deformed templating was introduced. Here, we asked whether an increase in expression level of the cellular form of PrP (PrP(C)) speeds up the evolution of synthetic strains in vivo. We found that in transgenic mice that overexpress hamster PrP(C), PrP(C) overexpression accelerated recombinant PrP fibril-induced conversion of PrP(C) to the abnormal proteinase K-resistant state, referred to as atypical PrPres, which was the first product of PrP(C) misfolding in vivo. However, overexpression of PrP(C) did not facilitate the second step of synthetic strain evolution-transition from atypical PrPres to PrP(Sc), which is attributed to the stochastic nature of rare deformed templating events. In addition, the potential of atypical PrPres to interfere with replication of a short-incubation time prion strain was investigated. Atypical PrPres was found to interfere strongly with replication of 263K in vitro; however, it did not delay prion disease in animals. The rate of deformed templating does not depend on the concentration of substrate and is hence more likely to be controlled by the intrinsic rate of conformational errors in templating alternative self-propagating states.
Project description:Prion diseases are classically characterized by the accumulation of pathological prion protein (PrP(Sc)) with the protease resistant C-terminal fragment (PrP(res)) of 27-30 kDa. However, in both humans and animals, prion diseases with atypical biochemical features, characterized by PK-resistant PrP internal fragments (PrP(res)) cleaved at both the N and C termini, have been described. In this study we performed a detailed comparison of the biochemical features of PrP(Sc) from atypical prion diseases including human Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker disease (GSS) and variably protease-sensitive prionopathy (VPSPr) and in small ruminant Nor98 or atypical scrapie. The kinetics of PrP(res) production and its cleavage sites after PK digestion were analyzed, along with the PrP(Sc) conformational stability, using a new method able to characterize both protease-resistant and protease-sensitive PrP(Sc) components. All these PrP(Sc) types shared common and distinctive biochemical features compared to PrP(Sc) from classical prion diseases such as sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and scrapie. Notwithstanding, distinct biochemical signatures based on PrP(res) cleavage sites and PrP(Sc) conformational stability were identified in GSS A117V, GSS F198S, GSS P102L and VPSPr, which allowed their specific identification. Importantly, the biochemical properties of PrP(Sc) from Nor98 and GSS P102L largely overlapped, but were distinct from the other human prions investigated. Finally, our study paves the way towards more refined comparative approaches to the characterization of prions at the animal-human interface.