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In Vitro Prion Protein Conversion in Detergent-Solubilized Membranes

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journal contribution
posted on 09.03.2004, 00:00 by Koren Nishina, Nathan R. Deleault, Ralf W. Lucassen, Surachai Supattapone
A fundamental event in the pathogenesis of prion disease is the conversion of PrPC, a normal glycophosphatidyl-anchored glycoprotein, into an infectious isoform designated PrPSc. In a modified version of the protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) technique [Saborio et al. (2001) Nature 411, 810−813], protease-resistant PrPSc-like molecules (PrPres) can be amplified in vitro in a species- and strain-specific manner from crude brain homogenates, providing a biochemical model of the prion conversion reaction [Lucassen et al. (2003) Biochemistry 42, 4127−4135]. In this study, we investigated the ability of enriched membrane subsets and detergent-solubilized membrane preparations to support PrPres amplification. Membrane fractionation experiments showed that purified synaptic plasma membrane preparations enriched in PrPC but largely depleted of late endosomal and lysosomal markers were sufficient to support PrPres amplification. Detergent solubilization experiments showed that a small group of select detergents could be used to produce soluble preparations that contain PrPC and fully support PrPres amplification. The stability of PrPres amplification ability in detergent-solubilized supernatants was dependent on detergent concentration. These results lead to the surprising conclusion that membrane attachment is not required for PrPC to convert efficiently into PrPres in vitro and also indicate that biochemical purification of PrPres amplification factors from brain homogenates is a feasible approach.

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