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Protein Eng Des Sel. 2011 Jan;24(1-2):69-78. doi: 10.1093/protein/gzq100. Epub 2010 Nov 12.

Deletion of a Ure2 C-terminal prion-inhibiting region promotes the rate of fibril seed formation and alters interaction with Hsp40.

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  • 1National Laboratory of Biomacromolecules, Institute of Biophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 15 Datun Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100101, China.


Prions are proteins that can undergo a heritable conformational change to an aggregated amyloid-like state, which is then transmitted to other similar molecules. Ure2, the nitrogen metabolism regulation factor of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, shows prion properties in vivo and forms amyloid fibrils in vitro. Ure2 consists of an N-terminal prion-inducing domain and a C-terminal functional domain. Previous studies have shown that mutations affecting the prion properties of Ure2 are not restricted to the N-terminal prion domain: the deletion of residues 151-158 in the C-domain increases the in vivo prion-inducing propensity of Ure2. Here, we characterized this mutant in vitro and found that the 151-158 deletion has minimal effect on the thermodynamic stability or folding properties of the protein. However, deletion of residues 151-158 accelerates the nucleation, growth and fragmentation of amyloid-like aggregates in vitro, and the aggregates formed are able to seed formation of fibrils of the wild-type protein. In addition, the absence of 151-158 was found to disrupt the inhibitory effect of the Hsp40 chaperone Ydj1 on Ure2 fibril formation. These results suggest that the enhanced in vivo prion-inducing ability of the 151-158 deletion mutant is due to its enhanced ability to generate prion seeds.

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