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Duernberger, Yvonne; Liu, Shu; Riemschoss, Katrin; Paulsen, Lydia; Bester, Romina; Kuhn, Peer-Hendrik; Schölling, Manuel; Lichtenthaler, Stefan F.; Vorberg, Ina (2018): Prion Replication in the Mammalian Cytosol: Functional Regions within a Prion Domain Driving Induction, Propagation, and Inheritance. In: Molecular and Cellular Biology, Vol. 38, No. 15
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Abstract

Prions of lower eukaryotes are transmissible protein particles that propagate by converting homotypic soluble proteins into growing protein assemblies. Prion activity is conferred by so-called prion domains, regions of low complexity that are often enriched in glutamines and asparagines (Q/N). The compositional similarity of fungal prion domains with intrinsically disordered domains found in many mammalian proteins raises the question of whether similar sequence elements can drive prion-like phenomena in mammals. Here, we define sequence features of the prototype Saccharomyces cerevisiae Sup35 prion domain that govern prion activities in mammalian cells by testing the ability of deletion mutants to assemble into self-perpetuating particles. Interestingly, the amino-terminal Q/N-rich tract crucially important for prion induction in yeast was dispensable for the prion life cycle in mammalian cells. Spontaneous and template-assisted prion induction, growth, and maintenance were preferentially driven by the carboxy-terminal region of the prion domain that contains a putative soft amyloid stretch recently proposed to act as a nucleation site for prion assembly. Our data demonstrate that preferred prion nucleation domains can differ between lower and higher eukaryotes, resulting in the formation of prions with strikingly different amyloid cores.