Prion protein self-peptides modulate prion interactions and conversion

Rigter, A.; Priem, J.; Timmers-Parohi, D.; Langeveld, J.P.M.; Zijderveld, F.G. van; Bossers, A.


Background: Molecular mechanisms underlying prion agent replication, converting host-encoded cellular prion protein (PrPC) into the scrapie associated isoform (PrPSc), are poorly understood. Selective self-interaction between PrP molecules forms a basis underlying the observed differences of the PrPC into PrPSc conversion process (agent replication). The importance of previously peptide-scanning mapped ovine PrP self-interaction domains on this conversion was investigated by studying the ability of six of these ovine PrP based peptides to modulate two processes; PrP self-interaction and conversion. Results: Three peptides (octarepeat, binding domain 2- and C-terminal) were capable of inhibiting self-interaction of PrP in a solid-phase PrP peptide array. Three peptides (N-terminal, binding domain 2, and amyloidogenic motif) modulated prion conversion when added before or after initiation of the prion protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) reaction using brain homogenates. The C-terminal peptides (core region and C-terminal) only affected conversion (increased PrPres formation) when added before mixing PrPC and PrPSc, whereas the octarepeat peptide only affected conversion when added after this mixing. Conclusion: This study identified the putative PrP core binding domain that facilitates the PrPC-PrPSc interaction (not conversion), corroborating evidence that the region of PrP containing this domain is important in the species-barrier and/or scrapie susceptibility. The octarepeats can be involved in PrPC-PrPSc stabilization, whereas the N-terminal glycosaminoglycan binding motif and the amyloidogenic motif indirectly affected conversion. Binding domain 2 and the C-terminal domain are directly implicated in PrPC self-interaction during the conversion process and may prove to be prime targets in new therapeutic strategy development, potentially retaining PrPC function. These results emphasize the importance of probable PrPC-PrPC and required PrPC-PrPSc interactions during PrP conversion. All interactions are probably part of the complex process in which polymorphisms and species barriers affect TSE transmission and susceptibility