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Prion. 2008 Apr-Jun;2(2):45-7. Epub 2008 Apr 17.

Insights into intragenic and extragenic effectors of prion propagation using chimeric prion proteins.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology & Physiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


The study of fungal prion proteins affords remarkable opportunities to elucidate both intragenic and extragenic effectors of prion propagation. The yeast prion protein Sup35 and the self-perpetuating [PSI+] prion state is one of the best characterized fungal prions. While there is little sequence homology among known prion proteins, one region of striking similarity exists between Sup35p and the mammalian prion protein PrP. This region is comprised of roughly five octapeptide repeats of similar composition. The expansion of the repeat region in PrP is associated with inherited prion diseases. In order to learn more about the effects of PrP repeat expansions on the structural properties of a protein that undergoes a similar transition to a self-perpetuating aggregate, we generated chimeric Sup35-PrP proteins. Using both in vivo and in vitro systems we described the effect of repeat length on protein misfolding, aggregation, amyloid formation and amyloid stability. We found that repeat expansions in the chimeric prion proteins increase the propensity to initiate prion propagation and enhance the formation of amyloid fibers without significantly altering fiber stability.

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