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XB-ART-44604
J Neurosci September 28, 2011; 31 (39): 14005-17.
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A nine amino acid domain is essential for mutant prion protein toxicity.

Westergard L , Turnbaugh JA , Harris DA .


Abstract
Transgenic mice expressing prion protein (PrP) molecules with several different internal deletions display spontaneous neurodegenerative phenotypes that can be dose-dependently suppressed by coexpression of wild-type PrP. Each of these deletions, including the largest one (Δ32-134), retains 9 aa immediately following the signal peptide cleavage site (residues 23-31; KKRPKPGGW). These residues have been implicated in several biological functions of PrP, including endocytic trafficking and binding of glycosaminoglycans. We report here on our experiments to test the role of this domain in the toxicity of deleted forms of PrP. We find that transgenic mice expressing Δ23-134 PrP display no clinical symptoms or neuropathology, in contrast to mice expressing Δ32-134 PrP, suggesting that residues 23-31 are essential for the toxic phenotype. Using a newly developed cell culture assay, we narrow the essential region to amino acids 23-26, and we show that mutant PrP toxicity is not related to the role of the N-terminal residues in endocytosis or binding to endogenous glycosaminoglycans. However, we find that mutant PrP toxicity is potently inhibited by application of exogenous glycosaminoglycans, suggesting that the latter molecules block an essential interaction between the N terminus of PrP and a membrane-associated target site. Our results demonstrate that a short segment containing positively charged amino acids at the N terminus of PrP plays an essential role in mediating PrP-related neurotoxicity. This finding identifies a protein domain that may serve as a drug target for amelioration of prion neurotoxicity.

PubMed ID: 21957261
PMC ID: PMC3227396
Article link: J Neurosci
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus
Genes referenced: c4bpa prnp

References [+] :
Aguzzi, Mammalian prion biology: one century of evolving concepts. 2004, Pubmed