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J Virol. 1994 Apr;68(4):2135-41.

Binding of the protease-sensitive form of PrP (prion protein) to sulfated glycosaminoglycan and congo red [corrected].

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Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Hamilton, Montana 59840.

Erratum in

  • J Virol 1994 Jun;68(6):4107.


Congo red and certain sulfated glycans are potent inhibitors of protease-resistant PrP accumulation in scrapie-infected cells. One hypothesis is that these inhibitors act by blocking the association between protease-resistant PrP and sulfated glycosaminoglycans or proteoglycans (e.g., heparan sulfate proteoglycan) that is observed in amyloid plaques of scrapie-infected brain tissue. Accordingly, we have investigated whether the apparent precursor of protease-resistant PrP, protease-sensitive PrP, binds to Congo red and heparin, a highly sulfated glycosaminoglycan with an inhibitory potency like that of heparan sulfate. Protease-sensitive PrP released from the surface of mouse neuroblastoma cells bound to heparin-agarose and Congo red-glass beads. Sucrose density gradient fractionation provided evidence that at least some of the PrP capable of binding heparin-agarose was monomeric. Free Congo red blocked PrP binding to heparin and vice versa, suggesting that these ligands share a common binding site. The relative efficacies of pentosan polysulfate, Congo red, heparin, and chondroitin sulfate in blocking PrP binding to heparin-agarose corresponded with their previously demonstrated potencies in inhibiting protease-resistant PrP accumulation. These results are consistent with the idea that sulfated glycans and Congo red inhibit protease-resistant PrP accumulation by interfering with the interaction of PrP with an endogenous glycosaminoglycan or proteoglycan.

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