Isolation of phosphatidylethanolamine as a solitary cofactor for prion formation in the absence of nucleic acids.
ABSTRACT: 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:Prions containing misfolded prion protein (PrP(Sc)) can be formed with cofactor molecules using the technique of serial protein misfolding cyclic amplification. However, it remains unknown whether cofactors materially participate in maintaining prion conformation and infectious properties. Here we show that withdrawal of cofactor molecules during serial propagation of purified recombinant prions caused adaptation of PrP(Sc) structure accompanied by a reduction in specific infectivity of >10(5)-fold, to undetectable levels, despite the ability of adapted "protein-only" PrP(Sc) molecules to self-propagate in vitro. We also report that changing only the cofactor component of a minimal reaction substrate mixture during serial propagation induced major changes in the strain properties of an infectious recombinant prion. Moreover, propagation with only one functional cofactor (phosphatidylethanolamine) induced the conversion of three distinct strains into a single strain with unique infectious properties and PrP(Sc) structure. Taken together, these results indicate that cofactor molecules can regulate the defining features of mammalian prions: PrP(Sc) conformation, infectivity, and strain properties. These findings suggest that cofactor molecules likely are integral components of infectious prions.
Project description: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:Previous studies identified two mammalian prion protein (PrP) polybasic domains that bind the disease-associated conformer PrP(Sc), suggesting that these domains of cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) serve as docking sites for PrP(Sc) during prion propagation. To examine the role of polybasic domains in the context of full-length PrP(C), we used prion proteins lacking one or both polybasic domains expressed from Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells as substrates in serial protein misfolding cyclic amplification (sPMCA) reactions. After ?5 rounds of sPMCA, PrP(Sc) molecules lacking the central polybasic domain (?C) were formed. Surprisingly, in contrast to wild-type prions, ?C-PrP(Sc) prions could bind to and induce quantitative conversion of all the polybasic domain mutant substrates into PrP(Sc) molecules. Remarkably, ?C-PrP(Sc) and other polybasic domain PrP(Sc) molecules displayed diminished or absent biological infectivity relative to wild-type PrP(Sc), despite their ability to seed sPMCA reactions of normal mouse brain homogenate. Thus, ?C-PrP(Sc) prions interact with PrP(C) molecules through a novel interaction mechanism, yielding an expanded substrate range and highly efficient PrP(Sc) propagation. Furthermore, polybasic domain deficient PrP(Sc) molecules provide the first example of dissociation between normal brain homogenate sPMCA seeding ability from biological prion infectivity. These results suggest that the propagation of PrP(Sc) molecules may not depend on a single stereotypic mechanism, but that normal PrP(C)/PrP(Sc) interaction through polybasic domains may be required to generate prion infectivity.
Project description:Conformational differences in abnormal prion proteins (PrP(Sc)) have been postulated to produce different prion phenotypes. During the interspecies transmission of prions, the conformation of PrP(Sc) may change with passage; however, little is known about the mechanism of PrP(Sc) transition. In this study, novel PrP(Sc)-specific monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) were developed that could detect the PrP(Sc) of mouse but not that of sheep. By using these mAbs, we attempted to examine PrP(Sc) accumulated in mice inoculated with sheep scrapie serially up to five passages. The presence of PrP(Sc) in the mice was confirmed at all passages; however, mAb-bound PrP(Sc) conformer was detected only from the third passage onward. The generated mAb enabled tracing of a particular conformer during adaptation in sheep-to-mice transmission of prion, suggesting that the conformational transition of PrP(Sc) was caused by propagation of this conformer. Such mAbs capable of discriminating conformational differences may allow us to address questions concerning PrP(Sc) conformation and strain diversity.
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: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: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:Prion diseases are caused by misfolding of the cellular protein PrP(C) to an infectious conformer, PrP(Sc). Intercellular PrP(Sc) transfer propagates conversion and allows infectivity to move from the periphery to the brain. However, how prions spread between cells of the central nervous system is unclear. Astrocytes are specialized non-neuronal cells within the brain that have a number of functions indispensable for brain homeostasis. Interestingly, they are one of the earliest sites of prion accumulation in the brain. A fundamental question arising from this observation is whether these cells are involved in intercellular prion transfer and thereby disease propagation. Using co-culture systems between primary infected astrocytes and granule neurons or neuronal cell lines, we provide direct evidence that prion-infected astrocytes can disseminate prion to neurons. Though astrocytes are capable of secreting PrP, this is an inefficient method of transferring prion infectivity. Efficient transfer required co-culturing and direct cell contact. Astrocytes form numerous intercellular connections including tunneling nanotubes, containing PrP(Sc), often colocalized with endolysosomal vesicles, which may constitute the major mechanism of transfer. Because of their role in intercellular transfer of prions astrocytes may influence progression of the disease.
Project description:The conformational change of a host protein, PrP(C), into a disease-associated isoform, PrP(Sc), appears to play a critical role in the pathogenesis of prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and scrapie. However, the fundamental mechanism by which infectious prions are produced in neurons remains unknown. To investigate the mechanism of prion formation biochemically, we conducted a series of experiments using the protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) technique with a preparation containing only native PrP(C) and copurified lipid molecules. These experiments showed that successful PMCA propagation of PrP(Sc) molecules in a purified system requires accessory polyanion molecules. In addition, we found that PrP(Sc) molecules could be formed de novo from these defined components in the absence of preexisting prions. Inoculation of samples containing either prion-seeded or spontaneously generated PrP(Sc) molecules into hamsters caused scrapie, which was transmissible on second passage. These results show that prions able to infect wild-type hamsters can be formed from a minimal set of components including native PrP(C) molecules, copurified lipid molecules, and a synthetic polyanion.
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.