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J Neurochem. 2004 Feb;88(4):769-81.

PrPc on the road: trafficking of the cellular prion protein.

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1
Loboratório de Neurofarmacologia, Departamento de Farmacologia, Universidad Federal de Minaas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. mprado@icb.ufmg.br

Abstract

The glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored cellular prion protein (PrPc) has a fundamental role in prion diseases. Intracellular trafficking of PrPc is important in the generation of protease resistant PrP species but little is known of how endocytosis affects PrPc function. Here, we discuss recent experiments that have illuminated how PrPc is internalized and what are the possible destinations taken by the protein. Contrary to what would be expected for a GPI-anchored protein there is increasing evidence that clathrin-mediated endocytosis and classical endocytic organelles participate in PrPc trafficking. Moreover, the N-terminal domain of PrPc may be involved in sorting events that can direct the protein during its intracellular journey. Indeed, the concept that the GPI-anchor determines PrPc trafficking has been challenged. Cellular signaling can be triggered or be regulated by PrPc and we suggest that endocytosis of PrPc may influence signaling in several ways. Definition of the processes that participate in PrPc endocytosis and intracellular trafficking can have a major impact on our understanding of the mechanisms involved in PrPc function and conversion to protease resistant conformations.

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