Prion Shaping Mechanism Unraveled

The BBC is reporting on a study published in Nature that proposes a mechanism by which prions, the misfolded proteins suspected of causing so-called “mad cow” disease, chronic wasting disease in deer, and the human analogue, new-variant Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, get their shapes and “reproduce.”

Essentially, prions are governed by the folding “rules” that govern ordinary proteins: temperature, pH, and hydrophobicity of their environment will affect their shape. The researchers subjected yeast prions to heat, causing some of them to unfold and re-fold into a different configuration. These modified prions then served as templates in the development of identical prions when introduced into prion-free yeast, much as DNA or RNA can serve as a template for the manufacture of more RNA or DNA.

posted by Chris on 17 March 2004 at 1648 in sci-tech


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Post a Comment

Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Remember me?