Amyloid folds not only represent the underlying cause of a large class of human diseases but also display a variety of functional roles both in prokaryote and eukaryote organisms. Among these roles is a recently-described activity in signal transduction cascades functioning in host defense and programmed cell death and involving Nod-like receptors (NLRs). In different fungal species, prion amyloid folds convey activation signals from a receptor protein to an effector domain by an amyloid templating and propagation mechanism. The discovery of these amyloid signaling motifs derives from the study of [Het-s], a fungal prion of the species Podospora anserina
. These signaling pathways are typically composed of two basic components encoded by adjacent genes, the NLR receptor bearing an amyloid motif at the N-terminal end and a cell death execution protein with a HeLo pore-forming domain bearing a C-terminal amyloid motif. Activation of the NLR receptor allows for amyloid folding of the N-terminal amyloid motifs which then template trans-conformation of the homologous motif in the cell death execution protein. A variety of such motifs, which differ by their sequence signature, have been described in fungi. Among them, the PP-motif bears resemblance with the RHIM amyloid motif involved in the necroptosis pathway in mammals suggesting an evolutionary conservation of amyloid signaling from fungi to mammals.
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