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Cell. 2000 Jan 21;100(2):277-88.

Molecular basis of a yeast prion species barrier.

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Department of Cellular & Molecular, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0450, USA.


The yeast [PSI+] factor is inherited by a prion mechanism involving self-propagating Sup35p aggregates. We find that Sup35p prion function is conserved among distantly related yeasts. As with mammalian prions, a species barrier inhibits prion induction between Sup35p from different yeast species. This barrier is faithfully reproduced in vitro where, remarkably, ongoing polymerization of one Sup35p species does not affect conversion of another. Chimeric analysis identifies a short domain sufficient to allow foreign Sup35p to cross this barrier. These observations argue that the species barrier results from specificity in the growing aggregate, mediated by a well-defined epitope on the amyloid surface and, together with our identification of a novel yeast prion domain, show that multiple prion-based heritable states can propagate independently within one cell.

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