Prions can turn a normal protein into a misfolded form. One prion in mammals promotes progressive neurodegenerative disorders like "mad cow" disease that often prove fatal. But how this process happens remains an open question for scientists.
Prions have been found to exist in a wide range of organisms. Those in brewer's yeast, which researchers like Liebman study, provide critical insight into how prions work.
Prion proteins in yeast aggregate, while non-prion proteins do not. Aggregation of new prions happens spontaneously -- but, in the natural world, very slowly.
Anita Manogaran, a former UIC research assistant professor in biological sciences, working with Liebman, sped-up prion formation to identify genes important in the process. The researchers were also able to monitor different stages of prion appearance by tagging prion proteins with another protein that fluoresces green. Cells in the process of forming prions had fluorescent rings, which could give rise to cells with prions.
"We learned there are some genes important for the generation of prions," Liebman said.
Some 400 yeast genes were screened for the ability to prevent the new appearance of yeast prion proteins.
"Through a number of screens, we came down to a much smaller number (of genes) that inhibited prion appearance," Liebman said. These genes fell into two classes -- one that could still make the rings, which is the hallmark of the beginning of prion aggregation. But the other class of genes had trouble forming rings, Liebman said.
Liebman and Manogaran also looked beyond new prion formation to see if these same genes had an effect on toxicity associated with a protein that causes Huntington's disease -- a fatal human neurodegenerative disorder.
"We found that genes that could make rings also were more toxic in the presence of the Huntington's disease protein," Liebman said. "If no rings were made, they were less toxic."
The full implications of the findings are not yet understood, Liebman cautioned.
"The more we understand about these mechanisms and the genes that are involved, the more we'll be able to understand the new appearance of prion disease -- like Creutzfeldt-Jakob and 'mad cow' -- and Huntington's disease. The more we understand what affects toxicity, the more we'll understand why these are toxic."
The findings were reported in the May 19 issue of PLoS Genetics.
Manogaran, now at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, UIC research assistant Joo Hong and former UIC undergraduate student Joan Hufana worked with Liebman on the project. Other co-authors of the paper include Jens Tyedmers of the University of Heidelberg and Susan Lindquist of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Major funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health.
Paul Francuch | EurekAlert!
Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München
Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences