Identification of a gene regulatory network associated with prion replication.
ABSTRACT: Prions consist of aggregates of abnormal conformers of the cellular prion protein (PrP(C)). They propagate by recruiting host-encoded PrP(C) although the critical interacting proteins and the reasons for the differences in susceptibility of distinct cell lines and populations are unknown. We derived a lineage of cell lines with markedly differing susceptibilities, unexplained by PrP(C) expression differences, to identify such factors. Transcriptome analysis of prion-resistant revertants, isolated from highly susceptible cells, revealed a gene expression signature associated with susceptibility and modulated by differentiation. Several of these genes encode proteins with a role in extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling, a compartment in which disease-related PrP is deposited. Silencing nine of these genes significantly increased susceptibility. Silencing of Papss2 led to undersulphated heparan sulphate and increased PrP(C) deposition at the ECM, concomitantly with increased prion propagation. Moreover, inhibition of fibronectin 1 binding to integrin ?8 by RGD peptide inhibited metalloproteinases (MMP)-2/9 whilst increasing prion propagation. In summary, we have identified a gene regulatory network associated with prion propagation at the ECM and governed by the cellular differentiation state.
Project description:Prions consist of aggregates of abnormal conformers of cellular prion protein (PrPC). They propagate by recruiting host-encoded PrPC although the critical interacting proteins and the reasons for the differences in susceptibility of distinct cell lines and populations are unknown. We derived a lineage of cell lines with markedly differing susceptibilities, unexplained by PrPC expression differences, to identify such factors. We examined the transcriptomes of prion-resistant revertants, isolated from highly susceptible cells, and identified a gene expression signature associated with susceptibility. Several of these genes encode proteins with a role in extracellular matrix (ECM) remodelling, a compartment in which disease-related PrP deposits. Loss-of-function of nine of these genes significantly increased susceptibility. Remarkably, inhibition of fibronectin 1 binding to integrin α8 by RGD peptide inhibited metalloproteinases (MMP)-2/9 whilst increasing prion propagation rates. This indicates that prion replication may be controlled by MMPs at the ECM in an integrin-dependent manner. Overall design: For each of the three biological repeats cell clones (samples) were harvested at a subclonfluent state and total RNA isolated using Rneasy (Qiagen) according to the specification of the manufacturer. Retinoic acid treatment of revertant cell clones (R2, R5, R7) increased prion replication by up to fourty-fold. To test differential gene expression under these conditions R7 cells were treated with retinoic acid (0.5 microM) and vehicle for six hours, before isolation of total RNA as described previously (PK 11.1 210307, PK 11.3 210307,PK 13.1 210307,PK 13.2 210307,PK 13.3 210307)
Project description:Understanding the molecular parameters governing prion propagation is crucial for controlling these lethal, proteinaceous, and infectious neurodegenerative diseases. To explore the effects of prion protein (PrP) sequence and structural variations on intra- and interspecies transmission, we integrated studies in deer, a species naturally susceptible to chronic wasting disease (CWD), a burgeoning, contagious epidemic of uncertain origin and zoonotic potential, with structural and transgenic (Tg) mouse modeling and cell-free prion amplification. CWD properties were faithfully maintained in deer following passage through Tg mice expressing cognate PrP, and the influences of naturally occurring PrP polymorphisms on CWD susceptibility were accurately reproduced in Tg mice or cell-free systems. Although Tg mice also recapitulated susceptibility of deer to sheep prions, polymorphisms that provided protection against CWD had distinct and varied influences. Whereas substitutions at residues 95 and 96 in the unstructured region affected CWD propagation, their protective effects were overridden during replication of sheep prions in Tg mice and, in the case of residue 96, deer. The inhibitory effects on sheep prions of glutamate at residue 226 in elk PrP, compared with glutamine in deer PrP, and the protective effects of the phenylalanine for serine substitution at the adjacent residue 225, coincided with structural rearrangements in the globular domain affecting interaction between ?-helix 3 and the loop between ?2 and ?-helix 2. These structure-function analyses are consistent with previous structural investigations and confirm a role for plasticity of this tertiary structural epitope in the control of PrP conversion and strain propagation.
Project description:Self-propagation of aberrant protein folds is the defining characteristic of prions. Knowing the structural basis of self-propagation is essential to understanding prions and their related diseases. Prion rods are amyloid fibrils, but not all amyloids are prions. Prions have been remarkably intractable to structural studies, so many investigators have preferred to work with peptide fragments, particularly in the case of the mammalian prion protein PrP. We compared the structures of a number of fragments of PrP by X-ray fiber diffraction, and found that although all of the peptides adopted amyloid conformations, only the larger fragments adopted conformations that modeled the complexity of self-propagating prions, and even these fragments did not always adopt the PrP structure. It appears that the relatively complex structure of the prion form of PrP is not accessible to short model peptides, and that self-propagation may be tied to a level of structural complexity unobtainable in simple model systems. The larger fragments of PrP, however, are useful to illustrate the phenomenon of deformed templating (heterogeneous seeding), which has important biological consequences.
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: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 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:Prions cause fatal infectious neurodegenerative diseases in humans and animals. Cell culture models are essential for studying the molecular biology of prion propagation. Defining such culture models is mostly a random process, includes extensive subcloning, and for many prion diseases few or no models exist. One example is chronic wasting disease (CWD), a highly contagious prion disease of cervids. To extend the range of cell models propagating CWD prions, we gene-edited mouse cell lines known to efficiently propagate murine prions. Endogenous prion protein (PrP) was ablated in CAD5 and MEF cells, using CRISPR-Cas9 editing. PrP knock-out cells were reconstituted with mouse, bank vole and cervid PrP genes by lentiviral transduction. Reconstituted cells expressing mouse PrP provided proof-of-concept for re-established prion infection. Bank voles are considered universal receptors for prions from a variety of species. Bank vole PrP reconstituted cells propagated mouse prions and cervid prions, even without subcloning for highly susceptible cells. Cells reconstituted with cervid PrP and infected with CWD prions tested positive in prion conversion assay, whereas non-reconstituted cells were negative. This novel cell culture platform which is easily adjustable and allows testing of polymorphic alleles will provide important new insights into the biology of CWD prions.
Project description:Prions are lethal infectious agents thought to consist of multi-chain forms (PrP(Sc)) of misfolded cellular prion protein (PrP(C)). Prion propagation proceeds in two distinct mechanistic phases: an exponential phase 1, which rapidly reaches a fixed level of infectivity irrespective of PrP(C) expression level, and a plateau (phase 2), which continues until clinical onset with duration inversely proportional to PrP(C) expression level. We hypothesized that neurotoxicity relates to distinct neurotoxic species produced following a pathway switch when prion levels saturate. Here we show a linear increase of proteinase K-sensitive PrP isoforms distinct from classical PrP(Sc) at a rate proportional to PrP(C) concentration, commencing at the phase transition and rising until clinical onset. The unaltered level of total PrP during phase 1, when prion infectivity increases a million-fold, indicates that prions comprise a small minority of total PrP. This is consistent with PrP(C) concentration not being rate limiting to exponential prion propagation and neurotoxicity relating to critical concentrations of alternate PrP isoforms whose production is PrP(C) concentration dependent.
Project description:Prions are unconventional infectious agents composed exclusively of misfolded prion protein (PrP(Sc)), which transmits the disease by propagating its abnormal conformation to the cellular prion protein (PrP(C)). A key characteristic of prions is their species barrier, by which prions from one species can only infect a limited number of other species. Here, we report the generation of infectious prions by interspecies transmission of PrP(Sc) misfolding by in vitro PMCA amplification. Hamster PrP(C) misfolded by mixing with mouse PrP(Sc) generated unique prions that were infectious to wild-type hamsters, and similar results were obtained in the opposite direction. Successive rounds of PMCA amplification result in adaptation of the in vitro-produced prions, in a process reminiscent of strain stabilization observed upon serial passage in vivo. Our results indicate that PMCA is a valuable tool for the investigation of cross-species transmission and suggest that species barrier and strain generation are determined by the propagation of PrP misfolding.
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.