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Apetri AC, Surewicz WK. Atypical effect of salts on the thermodynamic stability of human prion protein. Journal of Biological chemistry, 278(25), pp. 22187-92, 2003.

Abstract: Prion diseases are associated with the conversion of cellular prion protein, PrPC, into a misfolded oligomeric form, PrPSc. Previous studies indicate that salts promote conformational conversion of the recombinant prion protein into a PrPSc-like form. To gain insight into the mechanism of this effect, here we have studied the influence of a number of salts (sodium sulfate, sodium fluoride, sodium acetate, and sodium chloride) on the thermodynamic stability of the recombinant human prion protein. Chemical unfolding studies in urea show that at low concentrations (below approximately 50 mm), all salts tested significantly reduced the thermodynamic stability of the protein. This highly unusual response to salts was observed for both the full-length prion protein as well as the N-truncated fragments huPrP90-231 and huPrP122-231. At higher salt concentrations, the destabilizing effect was gradually reversed, and salts behaved according to their ranking in the Hofmeister series. The present data indicate that electrostatic interactions play an unusually important role in the stability of the prion protein. The abnormal effect of salts is likely because of the ion-induced destabilization of salt bridges (Asp144-Arg148 and/or Asp147-Arg151) in the extremely hydrophilic helix 1. Contrary to previous suggestions, this effect is not due to the interaction of ions with the glycine-rich flexible N-terminal region of the prion protein. The results of this study suggest that ionic species present in the cellular environment may control the PrPC to PrPSc conversion by modulating the thermodynamic stability of the native PrPC isoform.

Keywords: prion diseases, salt effect, Hoffmeister series, prion protein stability

URL: http://www.jbc.org/cgi/content/full/278/25/22187

Posted by Adrian C Apetri

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