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Prion. 2011 Oct-Dec;5(4):263-8. doi: 10.4161/pri.17918. Epub 2011 Oct 1.

Strategies for identifying new prions in yeast.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA.


The unexpected discovery of two prions, [URE3] and [PSI+], in Saccharomyces cerevisiae led to questions about how many other proteins could undergo similar prion-based structural conversions. However, [URE3] and [PSI+] were discovered by serendipity in genetic screens. Cataloging the full range of prions in yeast or in other organisms will therefore require more systematic search methods. Taking advantage of some of the unique features of prions, various researchers have developed bioinformatic and experimental methods for identifying novel prion proteins. These methods have generated long lists of prion candidates. The systematic testing of some of these prion candidates has led to notable successes; however, even in yeast, where rapid growth rate and ease of genetic manipulation aid in testing for prion activity, such candidate testing is laborious. Development of better methods to winnow the field of prion candidates will greatly aid in the discovery of new prions, both in yeast and in other organisms, and help us to better understand the role of prions in biology.

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