Scrapie protein degradation by cysteine proteases in CD11c+ dendritic cells and GT1-1 neuronal cells.
ABSTRACT: Dendritic cells (DC) of the CD11c(+) myeloid phenotype have been implicated in the spread of scrapie in the host. Previously, we have shown that CD11c(+) DC can cause a rapid degradation of proteinase K-resistant prion proteins (PrP(Sc)) in vitro, indicating a possible role of these cells in the clearance of PrP(Sc). To determine the mechanisms of PrP(Sc) degradation, CD11c(+) DC that had been exposed to PrP(Sc) derived from a neuronal cell line (GT1-1) infected with scrapie (ScGT1-1) were treated with a battery of protease inhibitors. Following treatment with the cysteine protease inhibitors (2S,3S)-trans-epoxysuccinyl-L-leucylamido-3-methylbutane (E-64c), its ethyl ester (E-64d), and leupeptin, the degradation of PrP(Sc) was inhibited, while inhibitors of serine and aspartic and metalloproteases (aprotinin, pepstatin, and phosphoramidon) had no effect. An endogenous degradation of PrP(Sc) in ScGT1-1 cells was revealed by inhibiting the expression of cellular PrP (PrP(C)) by RNA interference, and this degradation could also be inhibited by the cysteine protease inhibitors. Our data show that PrP(Sc) is proteolytically cleaved preferentially by cysteine proteases in both CD11c(+) DC and ScGT1-1 cells and that the degradation of PrP(Sc) by proteases is different from that of PrP(C). Interference by protease inhibitors with DC-induced processing of PrP(Sc) has the potential to modify prion spread, clearance, and immunization in a host.
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.
Project description:Although proteinacious in nature, prions exist as strains with specific self-perpetuating biological properties. Prion strains are thought to be associated with different conformers of PrP(Sc), a disease-associated isoform of the host-encoded cellular protein (PrP(C)). Molecular strain typing approaches have been developed which rely on the characterization of protease-resistant PrP(Sc). However, PrP(Sc) is composed not only of protease-resistant but also of protease-sensitive isoforms. The aim of this work was to develop a protocol for the molecular characterization of both, protease-resistant and protease-sensitive PrP(Sc) aggregates. We first set up experimental conditions which allowed the most advantageous separation of PrP(C) and PrP(Sc) by means of differential centrifugation. The conformational solubility and stability assay (CSSA) was then developed by measuring PrP(Sc) solubility as a function of increased exposure to GdnHCl. Brain homogenates from voles infected with human and sheep prion isolates were analysed by CSSA and showed strain-specific conformational stabilities, with mean [GdnHCl](1/2) values ranging from 1.6 M for MM2 sCJD to 2.1 for scrapie and to 2.8 M for MM1/MV1 sCJD and E200K gCJD. Interestingly, the rank order of [GdnHCl](1/2) values observed in the human and sheep isolates used as inocula closely matched those found following transmission in voles, being MM1 sCJD the most resistant (3.3 M), followed by sheep scrapie (2.2 M) and by MM2 sCJD (1.6 M). In order to test the ability of CSSA to characterise protease-sensitive PrP(Sc), we analysed sheep isolates of Nor98 and compared them to classical scrapie isolates. In Nor98, insoluble PrP(Sc) aggregates were mainly protease-sensitive and showed a conformational stability much lower than in classical scrapie. Our results show that CSSA is able to reveal strain-specified PrP(Sc) conformational stabilities of protease-resistant and protease-sensitive PrP(Sc) and that it is a valuable tool for strain typing in natural hosts, such as humans and sheep.
Project description:Understanding the structure of PrP(Sc) and its strain variation has been one of the major challenges in prion disease biology. To study the strain-dependent conformations of PrP(Sc), we purified proteinase-resistant PrP(Sc) (PrP(RES)) from mouse brains with three different murine-adapted scrapie strains (Chandler, 22L, and Me7) and systematically tested the accessibility of epitopes of a wide range of anti-PrP and anti-PrP(Sc) specific antibodies by indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). We found that epitopes of most anti-PrP antibodies were hidden in the folded structure of PrP(RES), even though these epitopes are revealed with guanidine denaturation. However, reactivities to a PrP(Sc)-specific conformational C-terminal antibody showed significant differences among the three different prion strains. Our results provide evidence for strain-dependent conformational variation near the C termini of molecules within PrP(Sc) multimers.It has long been apparent that prion strains can have different conformations near the N terminus of the PrP(Sc) protease-resistant core. Here, we show that a C-terminal conformational PrP(Sc)-specific antibody reacts differently to three murine-adapted scrapie strains. These results suggest, in turn, that conformational differences in the C terminus of PrP(Sc) also contribute to the phenotypic distinction between prion strains.
Project description:Prion diseases are fatal, neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the structural conversion of the normal, cellular prion protein, PrP (C) into an abnormally structured, aggregated and partially protease-resistant isoform, termed PrP (Sc) . Although substantial research has been directed toward development of therapeutics targeting prions, there is still no curative treatment for the disease. Benzoxazines are bicyclic heterocyclic compounds possessing several pharmaceutically important properties, including neuroprotection and reactive oxygen species scavenging. In an effort to identify novel inhibitors of prion formation, several 5,7,8-trimethyl-1,4-benzoxazine derivatives were evaluated in vitro for their effectiveness on the expression levels of normal PrP (C) and its conversion to the abnormal isoforms of PrP (Sc) in a scrapie-infected cell culture model. The most potent compound was 2-(4-methoxyphenyl)-5,7,8-trimethyl-3,4-dihydro-2H-1,4-benzoxazine, with a diminishing effect on the formation of PrP (Sc) , thus establishing a class of compounds with a promising therapeutic use against prion diseases.
Project description:Prion diseases, a group of fatal neurodegenerative disorders, are characterized by the presence of the abnormal scrapie isoform of prion protein (PrP(Sc)) in affected brains. A conformational change is believed to convert the normal cellular prion protein into PrP(Sc). Detection of PrP(Sc) for diagnosis and prophylaxis is impaired because available Abs recognizing epitopes on PrP fail to distinguish between PrP(Sc) and normal cellular prion protein. Here, we report that an anti-DNA Ab, OCD4, as well as gene 5 protein, a well established DNA-binding protein, capture PrP from brains affected by prion diseases in both humans and animals but not from unaffected controls. OCD4 appears to immunoreact with DNA (or a DNA-associated molecule) that forms a conformation-dependent complex with PrP in prion diseases. Whereas PrP immunocaptured by OCD4 is largely protease-resistant, a fraction of it remains protease-sensitive. Moreover, OCD4 detects disease-associated PrP >10 times more efficiently than a widely used Ab to PrP. Our finding that anti-DNA Abs and gene 5 protein specifically target disease-associated DNA-PrP complexes in a wide variety of species and disease phenotypes opens new avenues in the study and diagnosis of prion diseases.
Project description:Prion diseases are fatal neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the accumulation of PrP(Sc), the infectious and protease-resistant form of the cellular prion protein (PrP(C)). We generated lentivectors expressing PrP(C)-specific short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) that efficiently silenced expression of the prion protein gene (Prnp) in primary neuronal cells. Treatment of scrapie-infected neuronal cells with these lentivectors resulted in an efficient and stable suppression of PrP(Sc) accumulation. After intracranial injection, lentiviral shRNA reduced PrP(C) expression in transgenic mice carrying multiple copies of Prnp. To test the therapeutic potential of lentiviral shRNA, we used what we believe to be a novel approach in which the clinical situation was mimicked. We generated chimeric mice derived from lentivector-transduced embryonic stem cells. Depending on the degree of chimerism, these animals carried the lentiviral shRNAs in a certain percentage of brain cells and expressed reduced levels of PrP(C). Importantly, in highly chimeric mice, survival after scrapie infection was significantly extended. Taken together, these data suggest that lentivector-mediated RNA interference could be an approach for the treatment of prion disease.
Project description:Accumulating lines of evidence indicate that the N-terminal domain of prion protein (PrP) is involved in prion susceptibility in mice. In this study, to investigate the role of the octapeptide repeat (OR) region alone in the N-terminal domain for the susceptibility and pathogenesis of prion disease, we intracerebrally inoculated RML scrapie prions into tg(PrP?OR)/Prnp(0/0) mice, which express mouse PrP missing only the OR region on the PrP-null background. Incubation times of these mice were not extended. Protease-resistant PrP?OR, or PrP(Sc)?OR, was easily detectable but lower in the brains of these mice, compared to that in control wild-type mice. Consistently, prion titers were slightly lower and astrogliosis was milder in their brains. However, in their spinal cords, PrP(Sc)?OR and prion titers were abundant and astrogliosis was as strong as in control wild-type mice. These results indicate that the role of the OR region in prion susceptibility and pathogenesis of the disease is limited. We also found that the PrP(Sc)?OR, including the pre-OR residues 23-50, was unusually protease-resistant, indicating that deletion of the OR region could cause structural changes to the pre-OR region upon prion infection, leading to formation of a protease-resistant structure for the pre-OR region.
Project description:Different transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE)-associated forms of prion protein (e.g. PrP(Sc)) can vary markedly in ultrastructure and biochemical characteristics, but each is propagated in the host. PrP(Sc) propagation involves conversion from its normal isoform, PrP(C), by a seeded or templated polymerization mechanism. Such a mechanism is also the basis of the RT-QuIC and eQuIC prion assays which use recombinant PrP (rPrP(Sen)) as a substrate. These ultrasensitive detection assays have been developed for TSE prions of several host species and sample tissues, but not for murine models which are central to TSE pathogenesis research. Here we have adapted RT-QuIC and eQuIC to various murine prions and evaluated how seeding activity depends on glycophosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchoring and the abundance of amyloid plaques and protease-resistant PrP(Sc) (PrP(Res)). Scrapie brain dilutions up to 10(-8) and 10(-13) were detected by RT-QuIC and eQuIC, respectively. Comparisons of scrapie-affected wild-type mice and transgenic mice expressing GPI anchorless PrP showed that, although similar concentrations of seeding activity accumulated in brain, the heavily amyloid-laden anchorless mouse tissue seeded more rapid reactions. Next we compared seeding activities in the brains of mice with similar infectivity titers, but widely divergent PrP(Res) levels. For this purpose we compared the 263K and 139A scrapie strains in transgenic mice expressing P101L PrP(C). Although the brains of 263K-affected mice had little immunoblot-detectable PrP(Res), RT-QuIC indicated that seeding activity was comparable to that associated with a high-PrP(Res) strain, 139A. Thus, in this comparison, RT-QuIC seeding activity correlated more closely with infectivity than with PrP(Res) levels. We also found that eQuIC, which incorporates a PrP(Sc) immunoprecipitation step, detected seeding activity in plasma from wild-type and anchorless PrP transgenic mice inoculated with 22L, 79A and/or RML scrapie strains. Overall, we conclude that these new mouse-adapted prion seeding assays detect diverse types of PrP(Sc).
Project description:Prion diseases are associated with the conformational conversion of the cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) into the pathological scrapie isoform (PrP(Sc)) in the brain. Both the in vivo and in vitro conversion of PrP(C) into PrP(Sc) is significantly inhibited by differences in amino acid sequence between the two molecules. Using protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA), we now report that the recombinant full-length human PrP (rHuPrP23-231) (that is unglycosylated and lacks the glycophosphatidylinositol anchor) is a strong inhibitor of human prion propagation. Furthermore, rHuPrP23-231 also inhibits mouse prion propagation in a scrapie-infected mouse cell line. Notably, it binds to PrP(Sc), but not PrP(C), suggesting that the inhibitory effect of recombinant PrP results from blocking the interaction of brain PrP(C) with PrP(Sc). Our findings suggest a new avenue for treating prion diseases, in which a patient's own unglycosylated and anchorless PrP is used to inhibit PrP(Sc) propagation without inducing immune response side effects.
Project description:Polymorphisms in the prion protein (PrP) gene are associated with phenotypic expression differences of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in animals and humans. In sheep, at least 10 different mutually exclusive polymorphisms are present in PrP. In this study, we determined the efficiency of the in vitro formation of protease-resistant PrP of nine sheep PrP allelic variants in order to gauge the relative susceptibility of sheep for scrapie. No detectable spontaneous protease-resistant PrP formation occurred under the cell-free conditions used. All nine host-encoded cellular PrP (PrP(C)) variants had distinct conversion efficiencies induced by PrP(Sc) isolated from sheep with three different homozygous PrP genotypes. In general, PrP allelic variants with polymorphisms at either codon 136 (Ala to Val) or codon 141 (Leu to Phe) and phylogenetic wild-type sheep PrP(C) converted with highest efficiency to protease-resistant forms, which indicates a linkage with a high susceptibility of sheep for scrapie. PrP(C) variants with polymorphisms at codons 171 (Gln to Arg), 154 (Arg to His), and to a minor extent 112 (Met to Thr) converted with low efficiency to protease-resistant isoforms. This finding indicates a linkage of these alleles with a reduced susceptibility or resistance for scrapie. In addition, PrP(Sc) with the codon 171 (Gln-to-His) polymorphism is the first variant reported to induce higher conversion efficiencies with heterologous rather than homologous PrP variants. The results of this study strengthen our views on polymorphism barriers and have further implications for scrapie control programs by breeding strategies.