PrionW: a server to identify proteins containing glutamine/asparagine rich prion-like domains and their amyloid cores.
ABSTRACT: Prions are a particular type of amyloids with the ability to self-perpetuate and propagate in vivo. Prion-like conversion underlies important biological processes but is also connected to human disease. Yeast prions are the best understood transmissible amyloids. In these proteins, prion formation from an initially soluble state involves a structural conversion, driven, in many cases, by specific domains enriched in glutamine/asparagine (Q/N) residues. Importantly, domains sharing this compositional bias are also present in the proteomes of higher organisms, thus suggesting that prion-like conversion might be an evolutionary conserved mechanism. We have recently shown that the identification and evaluation of the potency of amyloid nucleating sequences in putative prion domains allows discrimination of genuine prions. PrionW is a web application that exploits this principle to scan sequences in order to identify proteins containing Q/N enriched prion-like domains (PrLDs) in large datasets. When used to scan the complete yeast proteome, PrionW identifies previously experimentally validated prions with high accuracy. Users can analyze up to 10 000 sequences at a time, PrLD-containing proteins are identified and their putative PrLDs and amyloid nucleating cores visualized and scored. The output files can be downloaded for further analysis. PrionW server can be accessed at http://bioinf.uab.cat/prionw/.
Project description:A disordered to β-sheet transition was thought to drive the functional switch of Q/N-rich prions, similar to pathogenic amyloids. However, recent evidence indicates a critical role for coiled-coil (CC) regions within yeast prion domains in amyloid formation. We show that many human prion-like domains (PrLDs) contain CC regions that overlap with polyQ tracts. Most of the proteins bearing these domains are transcriptional coactivators, including the Mediator complex subunit 15 (MED15) involved in bridging enhancers and promoters. We demonstrate that the human MED15-PrLD forms homodimers in solution sustained by CC interactions and that it is this CC fold that mediates the transition towards a β-sheet amyloid state, its chemical or genetic disruption abolishing aggregation. As in functional yeast prions, a GFP globular domain adjacent to MED15-PrLD retains its structural integrity in the amyloid state. Expression of MED15-PrLD in human cells promotes the formation of cytoplasmic and perinuclear inclusions, kidnapping endogenous full-length MED15 to these aggregates in a prion-like manner. The prion-like properties of MED15 are conserved, suggesting novel mechanisms for the function and malfunction of this transcription coactivator.
Project description:Prions are self-propagating proteins that cause fatal neurodegenerative diseases in humans. However, increasing evidence suggests that eukaryotic cells exploit prion conformational conversion for functional purposes. A recent study delineated a group of twenty prion-like proteins in humans, characterized by the presence of low-complexity glutamine-rich sequences with overlapping coiled-coil (CCs) motifs. This is the case of Mediator complex subunit 15 (MED15), which is overexpressed in a wide range of human cancers. Biophysical studies demonstrated that the prion-like domain (PrLD) of MED15 forms homodimers in solution, sustained by CCs interactions. Furthermore, the same coiled-coil (CC) region plays a crucial role in the PrLD structural transition to a transmissible β-sheet amyloid state. In this review, we discuss the role of CCs motifs and their contribution to amyloid transitions in human prion-like domains (PrLDs), while providing a comprehensive overview of six predicted human prion-like proteins involved in transcription, gene expression, or DNA damage response and associated with human disease, whose PrLDs contain or overlap with CCs sequences. Finally, we try to rationalize how these molecular signatures might relate to both their function and involvement in disease.
Project description:Amyloids consist of repetitions of a specific polypeptide chain in a regular cross-?-sheet conformation. Amyloid propensity is largely determined by the protein sequence, the aggregation process being nucleated by specific and short segments. Prions are special amyloids that become self-perpetuating after aggregation. Prions are responsible for neuropathology in mammals, but they can also be functional, as in yeast prions. The conversion of these last proteins to the prion state is driven by prion forming domains (PFDs), which are generally large, intrinsically disordered, enriched in glutamines/asparagines and depleted in hydrophobic residues. The self-assembly of PFDs has been thought to rely mostly on their particular amino acid composition, rather than on their sequence. Instead, we have recently proposed that specific amyloid-prone sequences within PFDs might be key to their prion behaviour. Here, we demonstrate experimentally the existence of these amyloid stretches inside the PFDs of the canonical Sup35, Swi1, Mot3 and Ure2 prions. These sequences self-assemble efficiently into highly ordered amyloid fibrils, that are functionally competent, being able to promote the PFD amyloid conversion in vitro and in vivo. Computational analyses indicate that these kind of amyloid stretches may act as typical nucleating signals in a number of different prion domains.
Project description:Key challenges faced by all cells include how to spatiotemporally organize complex biochemistry and how to respond to environmental fluctuations. The budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae harnesses alternative protein folding mediated by yeast prion domains (PrDs) for rapid evolution of new traits in response to environmental stress. Increasingly, it is appreciated that low complexity domains similar in amino acid composition to yeast PrDs (prion-like domains; PrLDs) found in metazoa have a prominent role in subcellular cytoplasmic organization, especially in relation to RNA homeostasis. In this review, we highlight recent advances in our understanding of the role of prions in enabling rapid adaptation to environmental stress in yeast. We also present the complete list of human proteins with PrLDs and discuss the prevalence of the PrLD in nucleic-acid binding proteins that are often connected to neurodegenerative disease, including: ataxin 1, ataxin 2, FUS, TDP-43, TAF15, EWSR1, hnRNPA1, and hnRNPA2. Recent paradigm-shifting advances establish that PrLDs undergo phase transitions to liquid states, which contribute to the structure and biophysics of diverse membraneless organelles. This structural functionality of PrLDs, however, simultaneously increases their propensity for deleterious protein-misfolding events that drive neurodegenerative disease. We suggest that even these PrLD-misfolding events are not irreversible and can be mitigated by natural or engineered protein disaggregases, which could have important therapeutic applications. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled SI:RNA Metabolism in Disease.
Project description:Cytoplasmic TDP-43 mislocalization and aggregation is a pathological hallmark of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. TDP-43 is an RNA-binding protein (RBP) with a prion-like domain (PrLD) that promotes TDP-43 misfolding. PrLDs possess compositional similarity to canonical prion domains of various yeast proteins, including Sup35. Strikingly, disease-causing TDP-43 mutations reside almost exclusively in the PrLD and can enhance TDP-43 misfolding and toxicity. Another ?70 human RBPs harbor PrLDs, including FUS, TAF15, EWSR1, hnRNPA1, and hnRNPA2, which have surfaced in the etiology of neurodegenerative diseases. Importantly, PrLDs enable RBP function and mediate phase transitions that partition functional ribonucleoprotein compartments. This PrLD activity, however, renders RBPs prone to populating deleterious oligomers or self-templating fibrils that might spread disease, and disease-linked PrLD mutations can exacerbate this risk. Several strategies have emerged to counter TDP-43 proteinopathies, including engineering enhanced protein disaggregases based on Hsp104.
Project description:Algorithms designed to identify canonical yeast prions predict that around 250 human proteins, including several RNA-binding proteins associated with neurodegenerative disease, harbour a distinctive prion-like domain (PrLD) enriched in uncharged polar amino acids and glycine. PrLDs in RNA-binding proteins are essential for the assembly of ribonucleoprotein granules. However, the interplay between human PrLD function and disease is not understood. Here we define pathogenic mutations in PrLDs of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs) A2B1 and A1 in families with inherited degeneration affecting muscle, brain, motor neuron and bone, and in one case of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Wild-type hnRNPA2 (the most abundant isoform of hnRNPA2B1) and hnRNPA1 show an intrinsic tendency to assemble into self-seeding fibrils, which is exacerbated by the disease mutations. Indeed, the pathogenic mutations strengthen a 'steric zipper' motif in the PrLD, which accelerates the formation of self-seeding fibrils that cross-seed polymerization of wild-type hnRNP. Notably, the disease mutations promote excess incorporation of hnRNPA2 and hnRNPA1 into stress granules and drive the formation of cytoplasmic inclusions in animal models that recapitulate the human pathology. Thus, dysregulated polymerization caused by a potent mutant steric zipper motif in a PrLD can initiate degenerative disease. Related proteins with PrLDs should therefore be considered candidates for initiating and perhaps propagating proteinopathies of muscle, brain, motor neuron and bone.
Project description:Mutations in a number of stress granule-associated proteins have been linked to various neurodegenerative diseases. Several of these mutations are found in aggregation-prone prion-like domains (PrLDs) within these proteins. In this work, we examine the sequence features governing PrLD localization to stress granules upon stress. We demonstrate that many yeast PrLDs are sufficient for stress-induced assembly into microscopically visible foci that colocalize with stress granule markers. Additionally, compositional biases exist among PrLDs that assemble upon stress, and these biases are consistent across different stressors. Using these biases, we have developed a composition-based prediction method that accurately predicts PrLD assembly into foci upon heat shock. We show that compositional changes alter PrLD assembly behavior in a predictable manner, while scrambling primary sequence has little effect on PrLD assembly and recruitment to stress granules. Furthermore, we were able to design synthetic PrLDs that were efficiently recruited to stress granules, and found that aromatic amino acids, which have previously been linked to PrLD phase separation, were dispensable for this recruitment. These results highlight the flexible sequence requirements for stress granule recruitment and suggest that PrLD localization to stress granules is driven primarily by amino acid composition, rather than primary sequence.
Project description:Prions are a singular subset of proteins able to switch between a soluble conformation and a self-perpetuating amyloid state. Traditionally associated with neurodegenerative diseases, increasing evidence indicates that organisms exploit prion-like mechanisms for beneficial purposes. The ability to transit between conformations is encoded in the so-called prion domains, long disordered regions usually enriched in glutamine/asparagine residues. Interestingly, Plasmodium falciparum, the parasite that causes the most virulent form of malaria, is exceptionally rich in proteins bearing long Q/N-rich sequence stretches, accounting for roughly 30% of the proteome. This biased composition suggests that these protein regions might correspond to prion-like domains (PrLDs) and potentially form amyloid assemblies. To investigate this possibility, we performed a stringent computational survey for Q/N-rich PrLDs on P. falciparum. Our data indicate that ?10% of P. falciparum protein sequences have prionic signatures, and that this subproteome is enriched in regulatory proteins, such as transcription factors and RNA-binding proteins. Furthermore, we experimentally demonstrate for several of the identified PrLDs that, despite their disordered nature, they contain inner short sequences able to spontaneously self-assemble into amyloid-like structures. Although the ability of these sequences to nucleate the conformational conversion of the respective full-length proteins should still be demonstrated, our analysis suggests that, as previously described for other organisms, prion-like proteins might also play a functional role in P. falciparum.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Impaired proteostatic regulation of proteins with prion-like domains (PrLDs) is associated with a variety of human diseases including neurodegenerative disorders, myopathies, and certain forms of cancer. For many of these disorders, current models suggest a prion-like molecular mechanism of disease, whereby proteins aggregate and spread to neighboring cells in an infectious manner. The development of prion prediction algorithms has facilitated the large-scale identification of PrLDs among "reference" proteomes for various organisms. However, the degree to which intraspecies protein sequence diversity influences predicted prion propensity has not been systematically examined. RESULTS:Here, we explore protein sequence variation introduced at genetic, post-transcriptional, and post-translational levels, and its influence on predicted aggregation propensity for human PrLDs. We find that sequence variation is relatively common among PrLDs and in some cases can result in relatively large differences in predicted prion propensity. Sequence variation introduced at the post-transcriptional level (via alternative splicing) also commonly affects predicted aggregation propensity, often by direct inclusion or exclusion of a PrLD. Finally, analysis of a database of sequence variants associated with human disease reveals a number of mutations within PrLDs that are predicted to increase prion propensity. CONCLUSIONS:Our analyses expand the list of candidate human PrLDs, quantitatively estimate the effects of sequence variation on the aggregation propensity of PrLDs, and suggest the involvement of prion-like mechanisms in additional human diseases.
Project description:Proteins and RNAs assemble in membrane-less organelles that organize intracellular spaces and regulate biochemical reactions. The ability of proteins and RNAs to form condensates is encoded in their sequences, yet it is unknown which domains drive the phase separation (PS) process and what are their specific roles. Here, we systematically investigated the human and yeast proteomes to find regions promoting condensation. Using advanced computational methods to predict the PS propensity of proteins, we designed a set of experiments to investigate the contributions of Prion-Like Domains (PrLDs) and RNA-binding domains (RBDs). We found that one PrLD is sufficient to drive PS, whereas multiple RBDs are needed to modulate the dynamics of the assemblies. In the case of stress granule protein Pub1 we show that the PrLD promotes sequestration of protein partners and the RBD confers liquid-like behaviour to the condensate. Our work sheds light on the fine interplay between RBDs and PrLD to regulate formation of membrane-less organelles, opening up the avenue for their manipulation.