Isolation of a Defective Prion Mutant from Natural Scrapie.
ABSTRACT: It is widely known that prion strains can mutate in response to modification of the replication environment and we have recently reported that prion mutations can occur in vitro during amplification of vole-adapted prions by Protein Misfolding Cyclic Amplification on bank vole substrate (bvPMCA). Here we exploited the high efficiency of prion replication by bvPMCA to study the in vitro propagation of natural scrapie isolates. Although in vitro vole-adapted PrPSc conformers were usually similar to the sheep counterpart, we repeatedly isolated a PrPSc mutant exclusively when starting from extremely diluted seeds of a single sheep isolate. The mutant and faithful PrPSc conformers showed to be efficiently autocatalytic in vitro and were characterized by different PrP protease resistant cores, spanning aa ?155-231 and ?80-231 respectively, and by different conformational stabilities. The two conformers could thus be seen as different bona fide PrPSc types, putatively accounting for prion populations with different biological properties. Indeed, once inoculated in bank vole the faithful conformer was competent for in vivo replication while the mutant was unable to infect voles, de facto behaving like a defective prion mutant. Overall, our findings confirm that prions can adapt and evolve in the new replication environments and that the starting population size can affect their evolutionary landscape, at least in vitro. Furthermore, we report the first example of "authentic" defective prion mutant, composed of brain-derived PrPC and originating from a natural scrapie isolate. Our results clearly indicate that the defective mutant lacks of some structural characteristics, that presumably involve the central region ?90-155, critical for infectivity but not for in vitro replication. Finally, we propose a molecular mechanism able to account for the discordant in vitro and in vivo behavior, suggesting possible new paths for investigating the molecular bases of prion infectivity.
Project description:Prions induce a fatal neurodegenerative disease in infected host brain based on the refolding and aggregation of the host-encoded prion protein PrPC into PrPSc. Structurally distinct PrPSc conformers can give rise to multiple prion strains. Constrained interactions between PrPC and different PrPSc strains can in turn lead to certain PrPSc (sub)populations being selected for cross-species transmission, or even produce mutation-like events. By contrast, prion strains are generally conserved when transmitted within the same species, or to transgenic mice expressing homologous PrPC. Here, we compare the strain properties of a representative sheep scrapie isolate transmitted to a panel of transgenic mouse lines expressing varying levels of homologous PrPC. While breeding true in mice expressing PrPC at near physiological levels, scrapie prions evolve consistently towards different strain components in mice beyond a certain threshold of PrPC overexpression. Our results support the view that PrPC gene dosage can influence prion evolution on homotypic transmission.
Project description:Prion diseases are caused by the misfolding of a host-encoded glycoprotein, PrPC, into a pathogenic conformer, PrPSc. Infectious prions can exist as different strains, composed of unique conformations of PrPSc that generate strain-specific biological traits, including distinctive patterns of PrPSc accumulation throughout the brain. Prion strains from different animal species display different cofactor and PrPC glycoform preferences to propagate efficiently in vitro, but it is unknown whether these molecular preferences are specified by the amino acid sequence of PrPC substrate or by the conformation of PrPSc seed. To distinguish between these two possibilities, we used bank vole PrPC to propagate both hamster or mouse prions (which have distinct cofactor and glycosylation preferences) with a single, common substrate. We performed reconstituted sPMCA reactions using either (1) phospholipid or RNA cofactor molecules, or (2) di- or un-glycosylated bank vole PrPC substrate. We found that prion strains from either species are capable of propagating efficiently using bank vole PrPC substrates when reactions contained the same PrPC glycoform or cofactor molecule preferred by the PrPSc seed in its host species. Thus, we conclude that it is the conformation of the input PrPSc seed, not the amino acid sequence of the PrPC substrate, that primarily determines species-specific cofactor and glycosylation preferences. These results support the hypothesis that strain-specific patterns of prion neurotropism are generated by selection of differentially distributed cofactors molecules and/or PrPC glycoforms during prion replication.
Project description:Mammalian prions propagate by template-directed misfolding and aggregation of normal cellular prion related protein PrPC as it converts into disease-associated conformers collectively referred to as PrPSc. Mammalian species may be permissive for prion disease because these hosts have co-evolved specific co-factors that assist PrPC conformational change and prion propagation. We have tested this hypothesis by examining whether faithful prion propagation occurs in the normally PrPC-null invertebrate host Drosophila melanogaster. Ovine PrP transgenic Drosophila exposed at the larval stage to ovine scrapie showed a progressive accumulation of transmissible prions in adult flies. Strikingly, the biological properties of distinct ovine prion strains were maintained during their propagation in Drosophila. Our observations show that the co-factors necessary for strain-specific prion propagation are not unique to mammalian species. Our studies establish Drosophila as a novel host for the study of transmissible mammalian prions.
Project description:An essential and remarkable process of the biochemical and physiological features in prion diseases is the conversion of a host-encoded prion protein (PrPC) into a misfolded isoform (PrPSc). The conversion of PrPC and the replication of prions, in cases of peripheral infection, occur following the uptake and subsequent spread of prions to brain via spinal cord. We investigated the changes of gene expression profiles in the spleen, cervical spinal cord and thalamus following intraperitoneal inoculation of ME7 scrapie prion and the inter-tissue alterations of the differentially expressed genes through Venn diagram to find genes which are commonly influenced by ME7 scrapie prion spread in the three tissues. Overall design: C57BL/6 mice were divided into two experimental groups; C: Control, ME7: intraperitoneally ME7-inoculated. At the terminal stage (270 ± 8 days after the clinical signs are evident) of ME7 scrapie prion disease total RNA was isolated from three tissue regions of two experimental group (2 experimental group × 3 tissue samples of each experimental group × 2 mice = total 12 samples).
Project description:Scrapie is a naturally occurring transmissible spongiform encephalopathy of sheep and goats. This fatal neurodegenerative disease is caused by misfolding of the cellular prion protein to pathogenic ?-rich conformers (PrPSc) that accumulate in higher order structures of the brain and other tissues. This conversion has been used for in vitro assays including serial protein misfolding amplification and real-time quaking induced conversion (RT-QuIC). RT-QuIC can be used for the detection of prions and for strain discrimination in a variety of biological tissues from humans and animals. In this study, we evaluated how PrPSc isolated from sheep of different genotypes after inoculation with the scrapie agent influence the fibril formation in vitro using RT-QuIC. We found that reaction mixtures seeded with PrPSc from genotype VRQ/VRQ sheep brains have better conversion efficiency with 132M elk substrate compared to reactions seeded with PrPSc from the brains of sheep with the ARQ/ARQ genotype no matter which strain of scrapie was used to seed the reactions. We also inoculated transgenic mice expressing 132M elk PRNP (Tg12) with the scrapie agent from different genotypes of sheep to compare with our RT-QuIC results. The bioassays support the data showing a significantly shorter incubation period for inoculum from VRQ/VRQ sheep when compared to inoculum from ARQ/ARQ sheep. Thus, we conclude that the genotype of both source and recipient can strongly influence transmission.
Project description:Chronic wasting disease is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy of cervids. This fatal neurodegenerative disease is caused by misfolding of the cellular prion protein (PrPC) to pathogenic conformers (PrPSc), and the pathogenic forms accumulate in the brain and other tissues. Real-time Quaking Induced Conversion (RT-QuIC) can be used for the detection of prions and for prion strain discrimination in a variety of biological tissues from humans and animals. In this study, we evaluated how either PrPSc from cervids of different genotypes or PrPSc from different sources of CWD influence the fibril formation of recombinant bank vole (BV) or human prion proteins using RT-QuIC. We found that reaction mixtures seeded with PrPSc from different genotypes of white-tailed deer or reindeer brains have similar conversion efficiency with both substrates. Also, we observed similar results when assays were seeded with different sources of CWD. Thus, we conclude that the genotypes of all sources of CWD used in this study do not influence the level of conversion of PrPC to PrPSc.
Project description:The protein-only hypothesis predicts that infectious mammalian prions are composed solely of PrPSc, a misfolded conformer of the normal prion protein, PrPC. However, protein-only PrPSc preparations lack significant levels of prion infectivity, leading to the alternative hypothesis that cofactor molecules are required to form infectious prions. Here, we show that prions with parental strain properties and full specific infectivity can be restored from protein-only PrPSc in vitro. The restoration reaction is rapid, potent, and requires bank vole PrPC substrate, post-translational modifications, and cofactor molecules. To our knowledge, this represents the first report in which the essential properties of an infectious mammalian prion have been restored from pure PrP without adaptation. These findings provide evidence for a unified hypothesis of prion infectivity in which the global structure of protein-only PrPSc accurately stores latent infectious and strain information, but cofactor molecules control a reversible switch that unmasks biological infectivity.
Project description:Prions are pathogens formed from abnormal conformers (PrPSc) of the host-encoded cellular prion protein (PrPC). PrPSc conformation to disease phenotype relationships extensively vary among prion strains. In particular, prions exhibit a strain-dependent tropism for lymphoid tissues. Prions can be composed of several substrain components. There is evidence that these substrains can propagate in distinct tissues (e.g. brain and spleen) of a single individual, providing an experimental paradigm to study the cause of prion tissue selectivity. Previously, we showed that PrPC expression levels feature in prion substrain selection in the brain. Transmission of sheep scrapie isolates (termed LAN) to multiple lines of transgenic mice expressing varying levels of ovine PrPC in their brains resulted in the phenotypic expression of the dominant sheep substrain in mice expressing near physiological PrPC levels, whereas a minor substrain replicated preferentially on high expresser mice. Considering that PrPC expression levels are markedly decreased in the spleen compared to the brain, we interrogate whether spleen PrPC dosage could drive prion selectivity. The outcome of the transmission of a large cohort of LAN isolates in the spleen from high expresser mice correlated with the replication rate dependency on PrPC amount. There was a prominent spleen colonization by the substrain preferentially replicating on low expresser mice and a relative incapacity of the substrain with higher-PrPC level need to propagate in the spleen. Early colonization of the spleen after intraperitoneal inoculation allowed neuropathological expression of the lymphoid substrain. In addition, a pair of substrain variants resulting from the adaptation of human prions to ovine high expresser mice, and exhibiting differing brain versus spleen tropism, showed different tropism on transmission to low expresser mice, with the lymphoid substrain colonizing the brain. Overall, these data suggest that PrPC expression levels are instrumental in prion lymphotropism.
Project description:Prions propagate by a template driven process, inducing the normal cellular isoform (PrPC) to adopt the prion (PrPSc) conformation. In PrPC, the positions of lysines are highly conserved and strongly influence prion propagation. In this study, covalent modification was used to quantitate the role of lysines in the PrPSc template that drives prion replication. The ?-amino group of lysines in the PrPSc (hamster-adapted scrapie Sc237) template was acetylated by either acetic anhydride (Ac2O) or the N-hydroxysuccinimide ester of acetic acid (Ac-NHS). The extent of lysine acetylation in PrPSc was quantitated by mass spectrometry or Western blot-based analysis. Identical samples were bioassayed to quantitate the loss of infectivity associated with lysine acetylation. The reduction of infectivity at the highest reagent concentration was approximately 90% (?10-fold). Ten of the eleven prion lysines were acetylated to a greater extent (25-400-fold) than the observed loss of infectivity. Only one lysine, at position 220 (K220), had a reactivity that is consistent with the loss of infectivity. Although lysines are highly conserved and play a crucial role in converting PrPC into the PrPSc conformation, once that conformation is adopted, the lysines present in the PrPSc template play only a limited role in prion replication. In principle, this approach could be used to clarify the role of other amino acids in the replication of prions and other prion-like protein misfolding diseases.
Project description:Prions are unorthodox pathogens that cause fatal neurodegenerative diseases in humans and other mammals. Prion propagation occurs through the self-templating of the pathogenic conformer PrPSc, onto the cell-expressed conformer, PrPC. Here we study the conversion of PrPC to PrPSc using a recombinant mouse PrPSc conformer (mouse protein-only recPrPSc) as a unique tool that can convert bank vole but not mouse PrPC substrates in vitro. Thus, its templating ability is not dependent on sequence homology with the substrate. In the present study, we used chimeric bank vole/mouse PrPC substrates to systematically determine the domain that allows for conversion by Mo protein-only recPrPSc. Our results show that that either the presence of the bank vole amino acid residues E227 and S230 or the absence of the second N-linked glycan are sufficient to allow PrPC substrates to be converted by Mo protein-only recPrPSc and several native infectious prion strains. We propose that residues 227 and 230 and the second glycan are part of a C-terminal domain that acts as a linchpin for bank vole and mouse prion conversion.