Quantifying the Role of Lysine in Prion Replication by Nano-LC Mass Spectrometry and Bioassay.
ABSTRACT: 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:Infectious prions contain a self-propagating, misfolded conformer of the prion protein termed PrPSc. A critical prediction of the protein-only hypothesis is that autocatalytic PrPSc molecules should be infectious. However, some autocatalytic recombinant PrPSc molecules have low or undetectable levels of specific infectivity in bioassays, and the essential determinants of recombinant prion infectivity remain obscure. To identify structural and functional features specifically associated with infectivity, we compared the properties of two autocatalytic recombinant PrP conformers derived from the same original template, which differ by >105-fold in specific infectivity for wild-type mice. Structurally, hydrogen/deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (DXMS) studies revealed that solvent accessibility profiles of infectious and non-infectious autocatalytic recombinant PrP conformers are remarkably similar throughout their protease-resistant cores, except for two domains encompassing residues 91-115 and 144-163. Raman spectroscopy and immunoprecipitation studies confirm that these domains adopt distinct conformations within infectious versus non-infectious autocatalytic recombinant PrP conformers. Functionally, in vitro prion propagation experiments show that the non-infectious conformer is unable to seed mouse PrPC substrates containing a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor, including native PrPC. Taken together, these results indicate that having a conformation that can be specifically adopted by post-translationally modified PrPC molecules is an essential determinant of biological infectivity for recombinant prions, and suggest that this ability is associated with discrete features of PrPSc structure.
Project description:Prion diseases are infectious neurodegenerative disorders of humans and animals caused by misfolded forms of the cellular prion protein PrPC. Prions cause disease by converting PrPC into aggregation-prone PrPSc. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is the most contagious prion disease with substantial lateral transmission, affecting free-ranging and farmed cervids. Although the PrP primary structure is highly conserved among cervids, the disease phenotype can be modulated by species-specific polymorphisms in the prion protein gene. How the resulting amino-acid substitutions impact PrPC and PrPSc structure and propagation is poorly understood. We investigated the effects of the cervid 116A>G substitution, located in the most conserved PrP domain, on PrPC structure and conversion and on 116AG-prion conformation and infectivity. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed structural de-stabilization of 116G-PrP, which enhanced its in vitro conversion efficiency when used as recombinant PrP substrate in real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC). We demonstrate that 116AG-prions are conformationally less stable, show lower activity as a seed in RT-QuIC and exhibit reduced infectivity in vitro and in vivo. Infectivity of 116AG-prions was significantly enhanced upon secondary passage in mice, yet conformational features were retained. These findings indicate that structurally de-stabilized PrPC is readily convertible by cervid prions of different genetic background and results in a prion conformation adaptable to cervid wild-type PrP. Conformation is an important criterion when assessing transmission barrier, and conformational variants can target a different host range. Therefore, a thorough analysis of CWD isolates and re-assessment of species-barriers is important in order to fully exclude a zoonotic potential of CWD.
Project description:Resistance to proteolytic digestion has long been considered a defining trait of prions in tissues of organisms suffering from transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. Detection of proteinase K-resistant prion protein (PrPSc) still represents the diagnostic gold standard for prion diseases in humans, sheep and cattle. However, it has become increasingly apparent that the accumulation of PrPSc does not always accompany prion infections: high titers of prion infectivity can be reached also in the absence of protease resistant PrPSc. Here, we describe a structural basis for the phenomenon of protease-sensitive prion infectivity. We studied the effect on proteinase K (PK) resistance of the amino acid substitution Y169F, which removes a single oxygen atom from the ?2-?2 loop of the cellular prion protein (PrPC). When infected with RML or the 263K strain of prions, transgenic mice lacking wild-type (wt) PrPC but expressing MoPrP169F generated prion infectivity at levels comparable to wt mice. The newly generated MoPrP169F prions were biologically indistinguishable from those recovered from prion-infected wt mice, and elicited similar pathologies in vivo. Surprisingly, MoPrP169F prions showed greatly reduced PK resistance and density gradient analyses showed a significant reduction in high-density aggregates. Passage of MoPrP169F prions into mice expressing wt MoPrP led to full recovery of protease resistance, indicating that no strain shift had taken place. We conclude that a subtle structural variation in the ?2-?2 loop of PrPC affects the sensitivity of PrPSc to protease but does not impact prion replication and infectivity. With these findings a specific structural feature of PrPC can be linked to a physicochemical property of the corresponding 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: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:Biological effect of poly-L-arginine (PLR), the linear homopolymer comprised of L-arginine, was investigated to determine the activity of suppressing prions. PLR decreased the level of scrapie prion protein (PrPSc) in cultured cells permanently infected with prions in a concentration-dependent manner. The PrPSc inhibition efficacy of PLR was greater than that of another prion-suppressant poly-L-lysine (PLK) in a molecular mass-dependent fashion. The effective concentration of PLR to inhibit prions was achieved safely below the cytotoxic concentrations, and overall cytotoxicity of PLR was similar to that of PLK. PLR did not alter the cellular prion protein (PrPC) level and was unable to change the states of preformed recombinant PrP aggregates and PrPSc from prion-infected cells. These data eliminate the possibility that the action mechanism of PLR is through removal of PrPC and pre-existing PrPSc. However, PLR formed complexes with plasminogen that stimulates prion propagation via conversion of PrPC to the misfolded isoform, PrPSc. The plasminogen-PLR complex demonstrated the greater positive surface charge values than the similar complex with PLK, raising the possibility that PLR interferes with the role of cofactor for PrPSc generation better than PLK.
Project description:Prion diseases are neurodegenerative disorders associated in most cases with the accumulation in the central nervous system of PrPSc (conformationally altered isoform of cellular prion protein (PrPC); Sc for scrapie), a partially protease-resistant isoform of the PrPC. PrPSc is thought to be the causative agent of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. The mechanisms involved in the intercellular transfer of PrPSc are still enigmatic. Recently, small cellular vesicles of endosomal origin called exosomes have been proposed to contribute to the spread of prions in cell culture models. Retroviruses such as murine leukemia virus (MuLV) or human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) have been shown to assemble and bud into detergent-resistant microdomains and into intracellular compartments such as late endosomes/multivesicular bodies. Here we report that moloney murine leukemia virus (MoMuLV) infection strongly enhances the release of scrapie infectivity in the supernatant of coinfected cells. Under these conditions, we found that PrPC, PrPSc and scrapie infectivity are recruited by both MuLV virions and exosomes. We propose that retroviruses can be important cofactors involved in the spread of the pathological prion agent.
Project description:Conformational conversion of the cellular prion protein, PrPC, into the abnormally folded isoform, PrPSc, is a key pathogenic event in prion diseases. However, the exact conversion mechanism remains largely unknown. Transgenic mice expressing PrP with a deletion of the central residues 91-106 were generated in the absence of endogenous PrPC, designated Tg(PrP?91-106)/Prnp0/0 mice and intracerebrally inoculated with various prions. Tg(PrP?91-106)/Prnp0/0 mice were resistant to RML, 22L and FK-1 prions, neither producing PrPSc?91-106 or prions in the brain nor developing disease after inoculation. However, they remained marginally susceptible to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) prions, developing disease after elongated incubation times and accumulating PrPSc?91-106 and prions in the brain after inoculation with BSE prions. Recombinant PrP?91-104 converted into PrPSc?91-104 after incubation with BSE-PrPSc-prions but not with RML- and 22L-PrPSc-prions, in a protein misfolding cyclic amplification assay. However, digitonin and heparin stimulated the conversion of PrP?91-104 into PrPSc?91-104 even after incubation with RML- and 22L-PrPSc-prions. These results suggest that residues 91-106 or 91-104 of PrPC are crucially involved in prion pathogenesis in a strain-dependent manner and may play a similar role to digitonin and heparin in the conversion of PrPC into PrPSc.
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:Prion diseases are a group of fatal neurodegenerative disorders caused by prions, which consist mainly of the abnormally folded isoform of prion protein, PrPSc. A pivotal pathogenic event in prion disease is progressive accumulation of prions, or PrPSc, in brains through constitutive conformational conversion of the cellular prion protein, PrPC, into PrPSc. However, the cellular mechanism by which PrPSc is progressively accumulated in prion-infected neurons remains unknown. Here, we show that PrPSc is progressively accumulated in prion-infected cells through degradation of the VPS10P sorting receptor sortilin. We first show that sortilin interacts with PrPC and PrPSc and sorts them to lysosomes for degradation. Consistently, sortilin-knockdown increased PrPSc accumulation in prion-infected cells. In contrast, overexpression of sortilin reduced PrPSc accumulation in prion-infected cells. These results indicate that sortilin negatively regulates PrPSc accumulation in prion-infected cells. The negative role of sortilin in PrPSc accumulation was further confirmed in sortilin-knockout mice infected with prions. The infected mice had accelerated prion disease with early accumulation of PrPSc in their brains. Interestingly, sortilin was reduced in prion-infected cells and mouse brains. Treatment of prion-infected cells with lysosomal inhibitors, but not proteasomal inhibitors, increased the levels of sortilin. Moreover, sortilin was reduced following PrPSc becoming detectable in cells after infection with prions. These results indicate that PrPSc accumulation stimulates sortilin degradation in lysosomes. Taken together, these results show that PrPSc accumulation of itself could impair the sortilin-mediated sorting of PrPC and PrPSc to lysosomes for degradation by stimulating lysosomal degradation of sortilin, eventually leading to progressive accumulation of PrPSc in prion-infected cells.