Cellular phenotyping of secretory and nuclear prion proteins associated with inherited prion diseases

Author(s): Lorenz H, Windl O, Kretzschmar HA


The pathogenic mechanisms leading from mutations in the prion protein (PrP) gene to infectious disease are not understood. To investigate the possibility that cellular processing of mutant prion protein may contribute to the formation of infectious particles, a mouse PrP model system has been established using the green fluorescent protein. Three novel PrP mutants were examined employing this model system and compared with wild type as well as known mutant PrPs. Two Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease-associated PrP mutants, PrP T188K and PrP T188R, revealed a secretory pathway to the cell membrane and PrP(Sc)-like properties, i.e. enhanced proteinase K resistance and detergent insolubility similar to other mutant PrPs associated with familial prion diseases. Moreover, a recently described disease-related truncated PrP mutant, PrP Q160(Stop), showed an almost exclusive localization in the nucleus and a catabolism along the proteasomal pathway. Therefore, various distinct pathological mechanisms may cause prion diseases, and aberrant cellular processing may be included in the pathogenesis of prion diseases.

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