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Prion. 2007 Jul-Sep;1(3):170-8. Epub 2007 Jul 6.

Prion stability.

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  • 1Department of Biosciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, UK.


The rate of spontaneous change from psi(-) to the psi(+) condition, determined in yeast by states of the Sup35p protein, is briefly discussed together with the conditions necessary for such change to occur. Conditions that promote and which affect the rate of induction of psi(+) in Sup35p and of other prion-forming proteins to their respective prion forms are also discussed. These include the influence of the amount of non-prion protein, the presence of other prions, the activity of chaperones, and brief descriptions of the role of native sequences in the proteins and how alteration of sequences in prion-forming proteins influences the rate of induction of [prion(+)] and amyloid forms. The second part of this article discusses the conditions which affect the reversion of psi(+) to psi-, including factors which affect the copy-number of prion "seeds" or propagons and their partition. The principal factor discussed is the activity of the chaperone Hsp104, but the existence of other factors, such protein sequence and of other, less well-studied agents is touched upon and comparisons are made, as appropriate, with studies with other yeast prions. We conclude with a discussion of models of maintenance, in particular that of Tanaka et al. published in Nature (2006), which provides much insight into the phenotypic and genetic parameters of the numerous "variants" of prions increasingly being described in the literature.

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