Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Prions Rapidly 'Remodel' Good Protein Into Bad, Brown Study Shows

Date:
September 8, 2005
Source:
Brown University
Summary:
Brown Medical School researchers have discovered that prions -- the culprits behind fatal brain diseases such as mad cow and its human counterparts -- convert healthy protein into abnormal protein through an ultrafast process similar to DNA replication. The breakthrough finding, published in Nature, helps explain how prions multiply and lead to illness.

Green light/red light: Healthy Sup35, tagged with a green fluorescence, changed to red after converting to the infectious prion form.
Credit: Image courtesy of Brown University

Thisquick-change “mating” maneuver sheds important light on the mysteriousmolecular machinery behind prions, infectious proteins that cause fatalbrain ailments such as mad cow disease and scrapie in animals and, inrare cases, Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease and kuru in humans.

Becausesimilar protein self-replication occurs in neurodegenerative diseases,the findings, published in the latest issue of Nature, may also helpexplain the progression of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’sdiseases.

Graduate student Prasanna Satpute-Krishnan andAssistant Professor Tricia Serio, both in Brown’s Department ofMolecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, conducted theresearch using Sup35, a yeast protein similar to the human prionprotein PrP.

The researchers tagged a non-prion form of Sup35with green fluorescent protein in one group of cells and “mated” thesecells with another group that contained the prion form. When the twoforms came in contact in the same cell, the green-glowing, healthyprotein changed pattern – a visual sign that it converted to the prionform. These results were confirmed in a series of experiments usingdifferent biochemical and genetic techniques.

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

Satpute-Krishnansaid the speed of protein conversion was surprising. “The prions weretaking all the existing protein and refolding it immediately,” shesaid. “It’s a very, very rapid change.”

After the conversion, theyeast cells remained healthy but had new characteristics. This survivalsupports the theory that prions have endured through evolution becauseshape-shifting is advantageous, allowing cells to avoid stress byrapidly adjusting to a new environment.

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

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


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brown University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Brown University. "Prions Rapidly 'Remodel' Good Protein Into Bad, Brown Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050908083457.htm>.
Brown University. (2005, September 8). Prions Rapidly 'Remodel' Good Protein Into Bad, Brown Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050908083457.htm
Brown University. "Prions Rapidly 'Remodel' Good Protein Into Bad, Brown Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050908083457.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins