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Mol Neurobiol. 2013 Dec;48(3):655-68. doi: 10.1007/s12035-013-8455-1. Epub 2013 Apr 27.

Abortive cell cycle events in the brains of scrapie-infected hamsters with remarkable decreases of PLK3/Cdc25C and increases of PLK1/cyclin B1.

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  • 1Department of Immunology, School of Medical Science and Laboratory Medicine, Jiangsu University, Zhenjiang, 212013,, Jiangsu, China.


Polo-like kinases (PLKs) consist of a family of kinases which play critical roles during multiple stages of cell cycle progression. Increase of PLK1 and decrease of PLK3 are associated with the developments and metastases of many types of human malignant tumors; however, the situations of PLKs in prion diseases are less understood. Using Western blots and immunohistochemical and immunofluorescent assays, marked increase of PLK1 and decrease of PLK3 were observed in the brains of scrapie strain 263K-infected hamsters, presenting obviously a time-dependent phenomenon along with disease progression. Similar alterations of PLKs were also detected in a scrapie infectious cell line SMB-S15. Both PLK1 and PLK3 were observed in neurons by confocal microscopy. Accompanying with the changes of PLKs in the brains of 263K-infected hamsters, Cdc25C and its phosphorylated forms (p-Cdc25C-Ser198 and p-Cdc25C-Ser216) were significantly down-regulated, whereas Cyclin B1 and PCNA were obviously up-regulated, while phospho-histone H3 remained almost unchanged. Moreover, exposure of the cytotoxic peptide PrP106-126 on the primary cultured cortical neuron cells induced similar changes of cellular PLKs and some cell cycle-related proteins, such as Cdc25C and its phosphorylated forms, phospho-histone H3. Those results illustrate obviously aberrant expressions of cell cycle regulatory proteins in the prion-infected neurons, which may lead to the cell cycle arrest at M phase. Possibly due to the ill-regulation of some key cell cycle events during prion infection, together with the fact that neurons are unable to complete mitosis, the cell cycle reentry in prion-infected neurons is definitely abortive, which may lead to neuron apoptosis and neuron degeneration.

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