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Recent Advances in Understanding Mammalian Prion Structure: A Mini Review

Terry, C; Wadsworth, JDF; (2019) Recent Advances in Understanding Mammalian Prion Structure: A Mini Review. [Review]. Frontiers In Molecular Neuroscience , 12 , Article 169. 10.3389/fnmol.2019.00169. Green open access

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Abstract

Prions are lethal pathogens, which cause fatal neurodegenerative diseases in mammals. They are unique infectious agents and are composed of self-propagating multi-chain assemblies of misfolded host-encoded prion protein (PrP). Understanding prion structure is fundamental to understanding prion disease pathogenesis however to date, the high-resolution structure of authentic ex vivo infectious prions remains unknown. Advances in determining prion structure have been severely impeded by the difficulty in recovering relatively homogeneous prion particles from infected brain and definitively associating infectivity with the PrP assembly state. Recently, however, images of highly infectious ex vivo PrP rods that produce prion-strain specific disease phenotypes in mice have been obtained using cryo-electron microscopy and atomic force microscopy. These images have provided the most detailed description of ex vivo mammalian prions reported to date and have established that prions isolated from multiple strains have a common hierarchical structure. Misfolded PrP is assembled into 20 nm wide rods containing two fibers, each with double helical repeating substructure, separated by a characteristic central gap 8–10 nm in width. Irregularly structured material with adhesive properties distinct to that of the fibers is present within the central gap of the rod. Prions are clearly distinguishable from non-infectious recombinant PrP fibrils generated in vitro and from all other propagating protein structures so far described in other neurodegenerative diseases. The basic architecture of mammalian prions appears to be exceptional and fundamental to their lethal pathogenicity.

Type: Article
Title: Recent Advances in Understanding Mammalian Prion Structure: A Mini Review
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fnmol.2019.00169
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnmol.2019.00169
Language: English
Additional information: h. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, prion disease, prion, prion-like, prion structure, amyloid beta, α-synuclein, tau
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Institute of Prion Diseases
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Institute of Prion Diseases > MRC Prion Unit at UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10079452
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