Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Prions Rapidly “Remodel” Good Protein Into Bad


Two Brown Medical School biologists have figured out the fate of healthy protein when it comes in contact with the infectious prion form in yeast: The protein converts to the prion form, rendering it infectious. In an instant, good protein goes bad.

Green light/red light
Healthy Sup35, tagged with a green fluorescence, changed to red after converting to the infectious prion form.

This quick-change “mating” maneuver sheds important light on the mysterious molecular machinery behind prions, infectious proteins that cause fatal brain ailments such as mad cow disease and scrapie in animals and, in rare cases, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease and kuru in humans.

Because similar protein self-replication occurs in neurodegenerative diseases, the findings, published in the latest issue of Nature, may also help explain the progression of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases.

Graduate student Prasanna Satpute-Krishnan and Assistant Professor Tricia Serio, both in Brown’s Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, conducted the research using Sup35, a yeast protein similar to the human prion protein PrP.

The researchers tagged a non-prion form of Sup35 with green fluorescent protein in one group of cells and “mated” these cells with another group that contained the prion form. When the two forms came in contact in the same cell, the green-glowing, healthy protein changed pattern – a visual sign that it converted to the prion form. These results were confirmed in a series of experiments using different biochemical and genetic techniques.

Because proteins can’t replicate like DNA and RNA – the genetic material in bacteria, viruses and other infectious agents – the research helps explain the puzzling process of how prions multiply and spread infection.

Satpute-Krishnan said the speed of protein conversion was surprising. “The prions were taking all the existing protein and refolding it immediately,” she said. “It’s a very, very rapid change.”

After the conversion, the yeast cells remained healthy but had new characteristics. This survival supports the theory that prions have endured through evolution because shape-shifting is advantageous, allowing cells to avoid stress by rapidly adjusting to a new environment.

“Our studies provide some insight into how the appearance of a misfolded protein – a rare event – can lead to devastating neurological diseases,” said Serio. “Just a small amount of prion-state protein can rapidly convert healthy protein into a pathogenic form.”

The National Cancer Institute and the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences funded the research.

Wendy Lawton | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

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...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

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...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

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...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

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...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'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...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>