Polymorphism at residue 129 modulates the conformational conversion of the D178N variant of human prion protein 90-231

Biochemistry. 2005 Dec 6;44(48):15880-8. doi: 10.1021/bi051455+.


One of the arguments in favor of the protein-only hypothesis of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies is the link between inherited prion diseases and specific mutations in the PRNP gene. One such mutation (Asp178 --> Asn) is associated with two distinct disorders: fatal familial insomnia or familial Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, depending upon the presence of Met or Val at position 129, respectively. In this study, we have characterized the biophysical properties of recombinant human prion proteins (huPrP90-231) corresponding to the polymorphic variants D178N/M129 and D178N/V129. In comparison to the wild-type protein, both polymorphic forms of D178N huPrP show a greatly increased propensity for a conversion to beta-sheet-rich oligomers (at acidic pH) and thioflavine T-positive amyloid fibrils (at neutral pH). Importantly, the conversion propensity for the D178N variant is strongly dependent upon the M/V polymorphism at position 129, whereas under identical experimental conditions, no such dependence is observed for the wild-type protein. Amyloid fibrils formed by wild-type huPrP90-231 and the D178N variant are characterized by different secondary structures, and these structures are further modulated by residue 129 polymorphism. Although on the basis of only in vitro data, this study strongly suggests that polymorphism-dependent phenotypic variability of familial prion diseases may be linked to differences in biophysical properties of prion protein variants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / chemistry
  • Amyloid / genetics
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Microscopy, Atomic Force
  • Peptide Fragments / chemistry*
  • Peptide Fragments / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Prion Diseases / genetics*
  • Prions / chemistry*
  • Prions / genetics*
  • Protein Conformation*
  • Protein Denaturation
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Thermodynamics


  • Amyloid
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Prions
  • prion protein (90-231)