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Molecules 2013, 18(8), 9451-9476; doi:10.3390/molecules18089451

Probing Early Misfolding Events in Prion Protein Mutants by NMR Spectroscopy

Department of Neuroscience, Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA), Via Bonomea 265, Trieste I-34136, Italy
Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Horvatovac 102A, Zagreb HR-10000, Croatia
Slovenian NMR Centre, National Institute of Chemistry, Hajdrihova 19, Ljubljana SI-1000, Slovenia
EN-FIST Center of Excellence, Ljubljana SI-1000, Slovenia
Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana SI-1000, Slovenia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 June 2013 / Revised: 1 August 2013 / Accepted: 5 August 2013 / Published: 7 August 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue NMR of Proteins and Small Biomolecules)
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The post-translational conversion of the ubiquitously expressed cellular form of the prion protein, PrPC, into its misfolded and pathogenic isoform, known as prion or PrPSc, plays a key role in prion diseases. These maladies are denoted transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) and affect both humans and animals. A prerequisite for understanding TSEs is unraveling the molecular mechanism leading to the conversion process whereby most α-helical motifs are replaced by β-sheet secondary structures. Importantly, most point mutations linked to inherited prion diseases are clustered in the C-terminal domain region of PrPC and cause spontaneous conversion to PrPSc. Structural studies with PrP variants promise new clues regarding the proposed conversion mechanism and may help identify “hot spots” in PrPC involved in the pathogenic conversion. These investigations may also shed light on the early structural rearrangements occurring in some PrPC epitopes thought to be involved in modulating prion susceptibility. Here we present a detailed overview of our solution-state NMR studies on human prion protein carrying different pathological point mutations and the implications that such findings may have for the future of prion research.
Keywords: prion protein; prions; genetic mutations; polymorphisms; prion diseases; 3D structure; NMR spectroscopy prion protein; prions; genetic mutations; polymorphisms; prion diseases; 3D structure; NMR spectroscopy

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Giachin, G.; Biljan, I.; Ilc, G.; Plavec, J.; Legname, G. Probing Early Misfolding Events in Prion Protein Mutants by NMR Spectroscopy. Molecules 2013, 18, 9451-9476.

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