Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Neurosci. 2012 May 23;32(21):7345-55. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6351-11.2012.

A new mechanism for transmissible prion diseases.

Author information

Center for Biomedical Engineering and Technology, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.


The transmissible agent of prion disease consists of prion protein (PrP) in β-sheet-rich state (PrP(Sc)) that can replicate its conformation according to a template-assisted mechanism. This mechanism postulates that the folding pattern of a newly recruited polypeptide accurately reproduces that of the PrP(Sc) template. Here, three conformationally distinct amyloid states were prepared in vitro using Syrian hamster recombinant PrP (rPrP) in the absence of cellular cofactors. Surprisingly, no signs of prion infection were found in Syrian hamsters inoculated with rPrP fibrils that resembled PrP(Sc), whereas an alternative amyloid state, with a folding pattern different from that of PrP(Sc), induced a pathogenic process that led to transmissible prion disease. An atypical proteinase K-resistant, transmissible PrP form that resembled the structure of the amyloid seeds was observed during a clinically silent stage before authentic PrP(Sc) emerged. The dynamics between the two forms suggest that atypical proteinase K-resistant PrP (PrPres) gave rise to PrP(Sc). While no PrP(Sc) was found in preparations of fibrils using protein misfolding cyclic amplification with beads (PMCAb), rPrP fibrils gave rise to atypical PrPres in modified PMCAb, suggesting that atypical PrPres was the first product of PrP(C) misfolding triggered by fibrils. The current work demonstrates that a new mechanism responsible for prion diseases different from the PrP(Sc)-templated or spontaneous conversion of PrP(C) into PrP(Sc) exists. This study provides compelling evidence that noninfectious amyloids with a structure different from that of PrP(Sc) could lead to transmissible prion disease. This work has numerous implications for understanding the etiology of prion and other neurodegenerative diseases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center