Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mad Cow And Related Diseases: Copper Linked To Normal Functioning Of Prions

Date:
June 28, 2009
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Researchers have discovered a link between copper and the normal functioning of prion proteins, which are associated with transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases such as Cruetzfeldt-Jakob in humans or "mad cow" disease in cattle. Their work could have implications for patients suffering from these diseases, as well as from other prion-related diseases such as Alzheimers or Parkinson's.

North Carolina State University researchers have discovered a link between copper and the normal functioning of prion proteins, which are associated with transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases such as Cruetzfeldt-Jakob in humans or "mad cow" disease in cattle. Their work could have implications for patients suffering from these diseases, as well as from other prion-related diseases such as Alzheimers or Parkinson's.

Prion proteins, or PrPs, are commonly found in brain tissue and throughout the central nervous system. In humans or animals with prion diseases, these proteins deform and aggregate, creating clumps of PrPs that interfere with the nervous system's ability to function normally. A team of NC State physicists, led by Miroslav Hodak and Jerry Bernholc, has found that when PrPs bind with copper in the human body, their structure becomes more stable and less likely to misfold or aggregate.

"We believe that a prion protein's normal function is to serve as a copper buffer in the human body, binding with copper ions and keeping those ions from damaging human tissue," Hodak says. "We wanted to determine whether this was the normal function of the prion, and then look at how that binding affected the prion's structure."

The researchers created a 3-D model of the PrP using supercomputers at Oak Ridge National Laboratories. With the model, they determined that PrPs can bind up to four copper ions apiece, depending on the concentration of copper present. They also found that when the PrPs bind to the copper ions, the structure of the protein changes, becoming more stable.

"Prion proteins are unusual in that half of the protein has a well-defined structure, but the other half of it - where the binding occurs - is a flexible, random tangle," Hodak says. "When we looked at the so-called 'random' portion of the PrP where that binding occurs, we found that the copper ions lend stability to the overall protein. This stability may play a role in preventing PrPs from misfolding or aggregating - which indicates that with prion diseases, copper binding may be beneficial."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Miroslav Hodak, Robin Chisnell, Wenchang Lu and Jerry Bernholc. Cu2 Binding to the Prion Protein: Functional Implications and the Role of Copper. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 22, 2009

Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Mad Cow And Related Diseases: Copper Linked To Normal Functioning Of Prions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 June 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090625141506.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2009, June 28). Mad Cow And Related Diseases: Copper Linked To Normal Functioning Of Prions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090625141506.htm
North Carolina State University. "Mad Cow And Related Diseases: Copper Linked To Normal Functioning Of Prions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090625141506.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Common Sleeping, Anxiety Pills Linked To Alzheimer's

Common Sleeping, Anxiety Pills Linked To Alzheimer's

Newsy (Sep. 10, 2014) Researchers found commonly prescribed sleeping and anxiety pills such as Xanax and Valium could lead to an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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