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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Dec 10;99 Suppl 4:16392-9. Epub 2002 Jul 30.

Interactions among prions and prion "strains" in yeast.

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  • 1Laboratory for Molecular Biology, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Illinois, 900 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago 60607, USA.


Prions are "infectious" proteins. When Sup35, a yeast translation termination factor, is aggregated in its [PSI(+)] prion form its function is compromised. When Rnq1 is aggregated in its [PIN(+)] prion form, it promotes the de novo appearance of [PSI(+)]. Heritable variants (strains) of [PSI(+)] with distinct phenotypes have been isolated and are analogous to mammalian prion strains with different pathologies. Here, we describe heritable variants of the [PIN(+)] prion that are distinguished by the efficiency with which they enhance the de novo appearance of [PSI(+)]. Unlike [PSI(+)] variants, where the strength of translation termination corresponds to the level of soluble Sup35, the phenotypes of these [PIN(+)] variants do not correspond to levels of soluble Rnq1. However, diploids and meiotic progeny from crosses between either different [PSI(+)], or different [PIN(+)] variants, always have the phenotype of the parental variant with the least soluble Sup35 or Rnq1, respectively. Apparently faster growing prion variants cure cells of slower growing or less stable variants of the same prion. We also find that YDJ1 overexpression eliminates some but not other [PIN(+)] variants and that prions are destabilized by meiosis. Finally, we show that, like its affect on [PSI(+)] appearance, [PIN(+)] enhances the de novo appearance of [URE3]. Surprisingly, [PSI(+)] inhibited [URE3] appearance. These results reinforce earlier reports that heterologous prions interact, but suggest that such interactions can not only positively, but also negatively, influence the de novo generation of prions.

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