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Cell. 2003 Apr 4;113(1):49-60.

Soluble dimeric prion protein binds PrP(Sc) in vivo and antagonizes prion disease.

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Institute of Neuropathology, Schmelzbergstrasse, University Hospital of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.


Conversion of cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) into a pathological conformer (PrP(Sc)) is thought to be promoted by PrP(Sc) in a poorly understood process. Here, we report that in wild-type mice, the expression of PrP(C) rendered soluble and dimeric by fusion to immunoglobulin Fcgamma (PrP-Fc(2)) delays PrP(Sc) accumulation, agent replication, and onset of disease following inoculation with infective prions. In infected PrP-expressing brains, PrP-Fc(2) relocates to lipid rafts and associates with PrP(Sc) without acquiring protease resistance, indicating that PrP-Fc(2) resists conversion. Accordingly, mice expressing PrP-Fc(2) but lacking endogenous PrP(C) are resistant to scrapie, do not accumulate PrP-Fc(2)(Sc), and do not transmit disease to others. These results indicate that various PrP isoforms engage in a complex in vivo, whose distortion by PrP-Fc(2) affects prion propagation and scrapie pathogenesis. The unique properties of PrP-Fc(2) suggest that soluble PrP derivatives may represent a new class of prion replication antagonists.

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