Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scripps research study reveals structural dynamics of single prion molecules

14.02.2007
New techniques paint clearer picture of amyloid formation associated with protein-based inheritance and neurodegenerative diseases such as mad cow, Alzheimer's

The new findings, which are being published the week of February 12 in an online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, offer significant insights into normal folding mechanisms as well as those that lead to abnormal amyloid fibril conversion. The new insights may lead to the discovery of novel therapeutic targets for neurodegenerative diseases.

Intriguingly, certain prions and amyloids can play beneficial roles. The subject of the new study, Sup35, enables protein-based inheritance in yeast. When this prion protein misfolds, it converts into self-perpetuating amyloid fibrils, thus altering its function in an inheritable manner. The research team used a combination of advanced biophysical methods to investigate these processes.

"By focusing on single unfolded prions, we were able to define the dynamics of two distinct regions or domains that determine conversion dynamics," said Ashok A. Deniz, a Scripps Research scientist who led the study. "Our research techniques can now be used to probe the structures of other amyloidogenic proteins. This could prove important in understanding the basic biology of amyloid formation, as well as in designing strategies against misfolding diseases."

... more about:
»Amyloid »Dynamic »Prion »fluorescence »intermediate

Interestingly, the new study revealed that yeast prion protein Sup35 lacks a specific, static structure in its native collapsed state. Instead, the compact protein fluctuates among several different structures before forming intermediate shapes during the amyloid assembly process.

The intermediate stages of the process are critically important, Deniz noted: "No single native unfolded protein is capable of initiating the amyloid cascade because of this constant shape-shifting. To start the amyloid conversion process, it has to first convert to an intermediate species, consisting of multiple protein molecules. This insight may be important to finding potential new therapeutic targets for disease-causing amyloids."

To define the dynamic structural details of individual prions, Deniz and his colleagues employed several novel technologies including single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (SM-FRET) and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS).

Fluorescence resonance energy transfer is a highly sensitive tool used to measure molecular structure and dynamics such as in single proteins at the angstrom level, a measurement unit used to define molecular distances (a 10th of a millionth of a millimeter). Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy is a high resolution technique that measures time fluctuations in fluorescent emissions from tagged proteins, which provided information about changes in shape of Sup35 taking place on the nanosecond timescale (billionths of seconds).

A third technology, single molecule fluorescence coincidence, was used in an unusual way-to prove that the protein species under scrutiny were not oligomeric (consisting of multiple proteins in an aggregate). The technology, based on measuring fluorescence bursts from individual tagged proteins, enabled the scientists to determine that the proteins being studied were, in fact, single monomers and not aggregates.

Deniz said that future work with yeast prion mutants might resolve some of the questions that remain unanswered. "Our laboratory has spent a great deal of time in improving these techniques, and we have used them to uncover some very intriguing information about this particular monomer," he said. "This combination of techniques can now be used to study other amyloidogenic proteins, including prions, particularly small assemblies and intermediate stages of the aggregation process. These are currently considered the most toxic forms of amyloid-disease associated proteins."

While mammalian prion proteins are different from those of yeast in their amino acid sequence, they do share some basic features, including their ability to catalyze the conversion to amyloid fibers. Some studies suggest that prions may also play key roles in certain critical processes such as long-term memory. Other authors of the study, A Natively Unfolded Yeast Prion Monomer Adopts An Ensemble of Collapsed and Rapidly Fluctuating Structures, are Samrat Mukhopadhyay and Edward A. Lemke of The Scripps Research Institute; and Susan Lindquist and Rajaraman Krishnan of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

Marisela Chevez | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.scripps.edu

Further reports about: Amyloid Dynamic Prion fluorescence intermediate

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>