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J Biol Chem. 2011 Mar 4;286(9):6911-7. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.194662. Epub 2010 Dec 14.

Conditional modulation of membrane protein expression in cultured cells mediated by prion protein recognition of short phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides.

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Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


We demonstrate that the levels of native as well as transfected prion protein (PrP) are lowered in various cell lines exposed to phosphorothioate oligodeoxynucleotides (PS-DNA) and can be rapidly reverted to their normal amounts by removal of PS-DNA. This transient modulation was independent of the glycosylation state of PrP, and in addition, all three PrP glycoforms were susceptible to PS-DNA treatment. Deletion of the N-terminal domain (amino acids 23-99), but not of the other domains of PrP, abrogated its PS-DNA-mediated down-regulation. PrP versions localized in the mitochondria, cytoplasm, or nucleus were not modulated by PS-DNA, indicating that PrP surface exposure is required for executing this effect. Proteins that in their native forms were not responsive to PS-DNA, such as thymocyte antigen 1 (Thy1), Doppel protein (Dpl), green fluorescent protein (GFP), and cyan fluorescent protein (CFP), became susceptible to PS-DNA-mediated down-regulation following introduction of the N terminus of PrP into their sequence. These observations demonstrate the essential role of the N-terminal domain for promoting oligonucleotide-mediated reduction of the PrP level and suggest that transient treatment of cultured cells with PS-DNA may provide a general method for targeted modulation of the levels of desired surface proteins in a conditional and reversible manner.

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