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Immun Ageing. 2010 Dec 16;7 Suppl 1:S5. doi: 10.1186/1742-4933-7-S1-S5.

Signal transduction in neurons: effects of cellular prion protein on fyn kinase and ERK1/2 kinase.

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Department of Experimental Biology, University of Bologna Via Selmi, 3 40126 - Bologna, Italy.



It has been reported that cellular prion protein (PrPc) co-localizes with caveolin-1 and participates to signal transduction events by recruiting Fyn kinase. As PrPc is a secreted protein anchored to the outer surface membrane through a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor (secPrP) and caveolin-1 is located in the inner leaflet of plasma membrane, there is a problem of how the two proteins can physically interact each other and transduce signals.


By using the GST-fusion proteins system we observed that PrPc strongly interacts with caveolin-1 scaffolding domain and with a caveolin-1 hydrophilic C-terminal region, but not with the caveolin-1 N-terminal region. In vitro binding experiments were also performed to define the site(s) of PrPc interacting with cav-1. The results are consistent with a participation of PrPc octapeptide repeats motif in the binding to caveolin-1 scaffolding domain. The caveolar localization of PrPc was ascertained by co-immunoprecipitation, by co-localization after flotation in density gradients and by confocal microscopy analysis of PrPc and caveolin-1 distributions in a neuronal cell line (GN11) expressing caveolin-1 at high levels.


We observed that, after antibody-mediated cross-linking or copper treatment, PrPc was internalized probably into caveolae. We propose that following translocation from rafts to caveolae or caveolae-like domains, secPrP could interact with caveolin-1 and induce signal transduction events.

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