Protein misfolding cyclic amplification for diagnosis and prion propagation studies

Methods Enzymol. 2006;412:3-21. doi: 10.1016/S0076-6879(06)12001-7.


Diverse human disorders are thought to arise from the misfolding and aggregation of an underlying protein. Among them, prion diseases are some of the most intriguing disorders that can be transmitted by an unprecedented infectious agent, termed prion, composed mainly (if not exclusively) of the misfolded prion protein. The hallmark event in the disease is the conversion of the native prion protein into the disease-associated misfolded protein. We have recently described a novel technology to mimic the prion conversion process in vitro. This procedure, named protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA), conceptually analogous to DNA amplification by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), has important applications for research and diagnosis. In this chapter we describe the rational behind PMCA and some of the many potential applications of this novel technology. We also describe in detail the technical and methodological aspects of PMCA, as well as its application in automatic and serial modes that have been developed with a view to improving disease diagnosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Prion Diseases / diagnosis
  • Prion Diseases / metabolism
  • Protein Folding*
  • Proteins / chemistry*
  • Proteins / metabolism*


  • Proteins