The cause of diseases such as BSE in cattle and Creutzfeld–Jakob disease in humans is a prion protein. This protein attaches to cell membranes by way of an anchor made of sugar and lipid components (a glycosylphosphatidylinositol, GPI) anchor.
The anchoring of the prions seems to have a strong influence on the transformation of the normal form of the protein into its pathogenic form, which causes scrapie and mad cow disease. A team headed by Christian F. W. Becker at the TU Munich and Peter H. Seeberger at the ETH Zurich has now “recreated” the first GPI-anchored prion in the laboratory. As they report in the journal Angewandte Chemie, they have been able to develop a new general method for the synthesis of anchored proteins.
The isolation of a complete prion protein that includes the anchor has not yet been achieved, nor has it been possible to produce a synthetic GPI-anchored protein. The function of the GPI anchor has thus remained in the dark. A new synthetic technique has now provided an important breakthrough for the German and Swiss team of researchers.
The sugar component of natural prion GPI anchors consists of five sugar building blocks, to which further sugars are attached through branches. Details of the lipid component have not been determined before. As a synthetic target, the researchers thus chose a construct made of the five sugars and one C18-lipid chain and worked out the corresponding synthetic route. First, the anchor was furnished with the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine. The prion protein was produced with the use of bacteria and was given an additional thioester (a sulfur-containing group). The centerpiece of the new concept is the linkage of the protein and anchor by means of a native chemical ligation, in which the cysteine group reacts with the thioester. This allowed the prion protein to firmly attach to the vesicle membranes by way of the artificial anchor.
This new concept will allow production of sufficient quantities of proteins modified with GPI anchors for in-depth studies. Experiments with the artificial GPI prion protein should help to clarify the influence of membrane association on conversion of the protein into the pathogenic scrapie form. This should finally make it possible to track down the infectious form of the prion.
Author: Christian F. W. Becker, Max-Planck-Institut für molekulare Physiologie, Dortmund (Germany), http://www.ch.tum.de/proteinchemie/
Title: Semisynthesis of a Glycosylphosphatidylinositol-Anchored Prion Protein
Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2008, 47, No. 43, 8215–8219, doi: 10.1002/anie.200802161
'Y' a protein unicorn might matter in glaucoma
23.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology
Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry
23.10.2017 | Rice University
Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
23.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
23.10.2017 | Life Sciences
23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine