ABSTRACT: Prions are proteins that can self-propagate, leading to the misfolding of proteins. In addition to the previously demonstrated pathogenic roles of prions during the development of different mammalian diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases, they have recently been shown to represent an important functional component in many prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms and bacteriophages, confirming the previously unexplored important regulatory and functional roles. However, an in-depth analysis of these domains in eukaryotic viruses has not been performed. Here, we examined the presence of prion-like proteins in eukaryotic viruses that play a primary role in different ecosystems and that are associated with emerging diseases in humans. We identified relevant functional associations in different viral processes and regularities in their presence at different taxonomic levels. Using the prion-like amino-acid composition computational algorithm, we detected 2679 unique putative prion-like domains within 2,742,160 publicly available viral protein sequences. Our findings indicate that viral prion-like proteins can be found in different viruses of insects, plants, mammals, and humans. The analysis performed here demonstrated common patterns in the distribution of prion-like domains across viral orders and families, and revealed probable functional associations with different steps of viral replication and interaction with host cells. These data allow the identification of the viral prion-like proteins as potential novel regulators of viral infections.
Project description:Prions are transmissible, propagating alternative states of proteins. Prions in budding yeast propagate heritable phenotypes and can function in large-scale gene regulation, or in some cases occur as diseases of yeast. Other 'prionogenic' proteins are likely prions that have been determined experimentally to form amyloid in vivo, and to have prion-like domains that are able to propagate heritable states. Furthermore, there are over 300 additional 'prion-like' yeast proteins that have similar amino-acid composition to prions (primarily a bias for asparagines and glutamines). Here, we examine the protein functional and interaction networks that involve prion, prionogenic and prion-like proteins. Set against a marked overall preference for N/Q-rich prion-like proteins not to interact with each other, we observe a significant tendency of prion/prionogenic proteins to interact with other, N/Q-rich prion-like proteins. This tendency is mostly due to a small number of networks involving the proteins NUP100p, LSM4p and PUB1p. In general, different data analyses of functional and interaction networks converge to indicate a strong linkage of prionogenic and prion-like proteins, to stress-granule assembly and related biological processes. These results further elucidate how prions may impact gene regulation, and reveal a broader horizon for the functional relevance of N/Q-rich prion-like domains.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Prion proteins conform a special class among amyloids due to their ability to transmit aggregative folds. Prions are known to act as infectious agents in neurodegenerative diseases in animals, or as key elements in transcription and translation processes in yeast. It has been suggested that prions contain specific sequential domains with distinctive amino acid composition and physicochemical properties that allow them to control the switch between soluble and ?-sheet aggregated states. Those prion-forming domains are low complexity segments enriched in glutamine/asparagine and depleted in charged residues and prolines. Different predictive methods have been developed to discover novel prions by either assessing the compositional bias of these stretches or estimating the propensity of protein sequences to form amyloid aggregates. However, the available algorithms hitherto lack a thorough statistical calibration against large sequence databases, which makes them unable to accurately predict prions without retrieving a large number of false positives. RESULTS: Here we present a computational strategy to predict putative prion-forming proteins in complete proteomes using probabilistic representations of prionogenic glutamine/asparagine rich regions. After benchmarking our predictive model against large sets of non-prionic sequences, we were able to filter out known prions with high precision and accuracy, generating prediction sets with few false positives. The algorithm was used to scan all the proteomes annotated in public databases for the presence of putative prion proteins. We analyzed the presence of putative prion proteins in all taxa, from viruses and archaea to plants and higher eukaryotes, and found that most organisms encode evolutionarily unrelated proteins with susceptibility to behave as prions. CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the first wide-ranging study aiming to predict prion domains in complete proteomes. Approaches of this kind could be of great importance to identify potential targets for further experimental testing and to try to reach a deeper understanding of prions' functional and regulatory mechanisms.
Project description:Prions are molecules characterized by self-propagation, which can undergo a conformational switch leading to the creation of new prions. Prion proteins have originally been associated with the development of mammalian pathologies; however, recently they have been shown to contribute to the environmental adaptation in a variety of prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms. Bacteriophages are widespread and represent the important regulators of microbiota homeostasis and have been shown to be diverse across various bacterial families. Here, we examined whether bacteriophages contain prion-like proteins and whether these prion-like protein domains are involved in the regulation of homeostasis. We used a computational algorithm, prion-like amino acid composition, to detect prion-like domains in 370,617 publicly available bacteriophage protein sequences, which resulted in the identification of 5040 putative prions. We analyzed a set of these prion-like proteins, and observed regularities in their distribution across different phage families, associated with their interactions with the bacterial host cells. We found that prion-like domains could be found across all phages of various groups of bacteria and archaea. The results obtained in this study indicate that bacteriophage prion-like proteins are predominantly involved in the interactions between bacteriophages and bacterial cell, such as those associated with the attachment and penetration of bacteriophage in the cell, and the release of the phage progeny. These data allow the identification of phage prion-like proteins as novel regulators of the interactions between bacteriophages and bacterial cells.
Project description:Yeast prions are heritable amyloid aggregates of functional yeast proteins; their propagation to subsequent cell generations is dependent upon fragmentation of prion protein aggregates by molecular chaperone proteins. Mounting evidence indicates the J-protein Sis1 may act as an amyloid specificity factor, recognizing prion and other amyloid aggregates and enabling Ssa and Hsp104 to act in prion fragmentation. Chaperone interactions with prions, however, can be affected by variations in amyloid-core structure resulting in distinct prion variants or 'strains'. Our genetic analysis revealed that Sis1 domain requirements by distinct variants of [PSI+] are strongly dependent upon overall variant stability. Notably, multiple strong [PSI+] variants can be maintained by a minimal construct of Sis1 consisting of only the J-domain and glycine/phenylalanine-rich (G/F) region that was previously shown to be sufficient for cell viability and [RNQ+] prion propagation. In contrast, weak [PSI+] variants are lost under the same conditions but maintained by the expression of an Sis1 construct that lacks only the G/F region and cannot support [RNQ+] propagation, revealing mutually exclusive requirements for Sis1 function between these two prions. Prion loss is not due to [PSI+]-dependent toxicity or dependent upon a particular yeast genetic background. These observations necessitate that Sis1 must have at least two distinct functional roles that individual prions differentially require for propagation and which are localized to the glycine-rich domains of the Sis1. Based on these distinctions, Sis1 plasmid-shuffling in a [PSI+]/[RNQ+] strain permitted J-protein-dependent prion selection for either prion. We also found that, despite an initial report to the contrary, the human homolog of Sis1, Hdj1, is capable of [PSI+] prion propagation in place of Sis1. This conservation of function is also prion-variant dependent, indicating that only one of the two Sis1-prion functions may have been maintained in eukaryotic chaperone evolution.
Project description:Prion proteins provide a unique mode of biochemical memory through self-perpetuating changes in protein conformation and function. They have been studied in fungi and mammals, but not yet identified in plants. Using a computational model, we identified candidate prion domains (PrDs) in nearly 500 plant proteins. Plant flowering is of particular interest with respect to biological memory, because its regulation involves remembering and integrating previously experienced environmental conditions. We investigated the prion-forming capacity of three prion candidates involved in flowering using a yeast model, where prion attributes are well defined and readily tested. In yeast, prions heritably change protein functions by templating monomers into higher-order assemblies. For most yeast prions, the capacity to convert into a prion resides in a distinct prion domain. Thus, new prion-forming domains can be identified by functional complementation of a known prion domain. The prion-like domains (PrDs) of all three of the tested proteins formed higher-order oligomers. Uniquely, the Luminidependens PrD (LDPrD) fully replaced the prion-domain functions of a well-characterized yeast prion, Sup35. Our results suggest that prion-like conformational switches are evolutionarily conserved and might function in a wide variety of normal biological processes.
Project description:Amyloids consist of repetitions of a specific polypeptide chain in a regular cross-β-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:UNLABELLED:Prions are infectious protein particles that replicate by templating their aggregated state onto soluble protein of the same type. Originally identified as the causative agent of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, prions in yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) are epigenetic elements of inheritance that induce phenotypic changes of their host cells. The prototype yeast prion is the translation termination factor Sup35. Prions composed of Sup35 or its modular prion domain NM are heritable and are transmitted vertically to progeny or horizontally during mating. Interestingly, in mammalian cells, protein aggregates derived from yeast Sup35 NM behave as true infectious entities that employ dissemination strategies similar to those of mammalian prions. While transmission is most efficient when cells are in direct contact, we demonstrate here that cytosolic Sup35 NM prions are also released into the extracellular space in association with nanometer-sized membrane vesicles. Importantly, extracellular vesicles are biologically active and are taken up by recipient cells, where they induce self-sustained Sup35 NM protein aggregation. Thus, in mammalian cells, extracellular vesicles can serve as dissemination vehicles for protein-based epigenetic information transfer. IMPORTANCE:Prions are proteinaceous infectious particles that propagate by templating their quaternary structure onto nascent proteins of the same kind. Prions in yeast act as heritable epigenetic elements that can alter the phenotype when transmitted to daughter cells or during mating. Prion activity is conferred by so-called prion domains often enriched in glutamine and asparagine residues. Interestingly, many mammalian proteins also contain domains with compositional similarity to yeast prion domains. We have recently provided a proof-of-principle demonstration that a yeast prion domain also retains its prion activity in mammalian cells. We demonstrate here that cytosolic prions composed of a yeast prion domain are also packaged into extracellular vesicles that transmit the prion phenotype to bystander cells. Thus, proteins with prion-like domains can behave as proteinaceous information molecules that exploit the cellular vesicle trafficking machinery for intercellular long-distance dissemination.
Project description:Yeast prions are self-perpetuating protein aggregates that are at the origin of heritable and transmissible non-Mendelian phenotypic traits. Among these, [PSI+], [URE3] and [PIN+] are the most well documented prions and arise from the assembly of Sup35p, Ure2p and Rnq1p, respectively, into insoluble fibrillar assemblies. Fibril assembly depends on the presence of N- or C-terminal prion domains (PrDs) which are not homologous in sequence but share unusual amino-acid compositions, such as enrichment in polar residues (glutamines and asparagines) or the presence of oligopeptide repeats. Purified PrDs form amyloid fibrils that can convert prion-free cells to the prion state upon transformation. Nonetheless, isolated PrDs and full-length prion proteins have different aggregation, structural and infectious properties. In addition, mutations in the "non-prion" domains (non-PrDs) of Sup35p, Ure2p and Rnq1p were shown to affect their prion properties in vitro and in vivo. Despite these evidences, the implication of the functional non-PrDs in fibril assembly and prion propagation has been mostly overlooked. In this review, we discuss the contribution of non-PrDs to prion assemblies, and the structure-function relationship in prion infectivity in the light of recent findings on Sup35p and Ure2p assembly into infectious fibrils from our laboratory and others.
Project description: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:Glutamine/asparagine (Q/N)-rich domains have a high propensity to form self-propagating amyloid fibrils. This phenomenon underlies both prion-based inheritance in yeast and aggregation of a number of proteins involved in human neurodegenerative diseases. To examine the prevalence of this phenomenon, complete proteomic sequences of 31 organisms and several incomplete proteomic sequences were examined for Q/N-rich regions. We found that Q/N-rich regions are essentially absent from the thermophilic bacterial and archaeal proteomes. Moreover, the average Q/N content of the proteins in these organisms is markedly lower than in mesophilic bacteria and eukaryotes. Mesophilic bacterial proteomes contain a small number (0-4) of proteins with Q/N-rich regions. Remarkably, Q/N-rich domains are found in a much larger number of eukaryotic proteins (107-472 per proteome) with diverse biochemical functions. Analyses of these regions argue they have been evolutionarily selected perhaps as modular "polar zipper" protein-protein interaction domains. These data also provide a large pool of potential novel prion-forming proteins, two of which have recently been shown to behave as prions in yeast, thus suggesting that aggregation or prion-like regulation of protein function may be a normal regulatory process for many eukaryotic proteins with a wide variety of functions.