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Prion. 2015;9(2):110-8. doi: 10.1080/19336896.2015.1022021.

Prion-like nanofibrils of small molecules (PriSM): A new frontier at the intersection of supramolecular chemistry and cell biology.

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a Department of Chemistry ; Brandeis University ; Waltham , MA USA.


Formed by non-covalent interactions and not defined at genetic level, the assemblies of small molecules in biology are complicated and less explored. A common morphology of the supramolecular assemblies of small molecules is nanofibrils, which coincidentally resembles the nanofibrils formed by proteins such as prions. So these supramolecular assemblies are termed as prion-like nanofibrils of small molecules (PriSM). Emerging evidence from several unrelated fields over the past decade implies the significance of PriSM in biology and medicine. This perspective aims to highlight some recent advances of the research on PriSM. This paper starts with description of the intriguing similarities between PriSM and prions, discusses the paradoxical features of PriSM, introduces the methods for elucidating the biological functions of PriSM, illustrates several examples of beneficial aspects of PriSM, and finishes with the promises and current challenges in the research of PriSM. We anticipate that the research of PriSM will contribute to the fundamental understanding at the intersection of supramolecular chemistry and cell biology and ultimately lead to a new paradigm of molecular (or supramolecular) therapeutics for biomedicine.


MHPB, molecular hydrogel protein binding; PrPSc, prions; PrPc, prion protein; PriLiM, prion-like mechanism; PriSM; PriSM, prion-like nanofibrils of small molecules; apoptosis; cancer; drug resistance; hydrogelator; nanofibrils; prion-like; promiscuous; self-assembly; small molecules; supramolecular

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