The prion protein family: diversity, rivalry, and dysfunction

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2007 Jun;1772(6):654-72. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2007.05.001.


The prion gene family currently consists of three members: Prnp which encodes PrP(C), the precursor to prion disease associated isoforms such as PrP(Sc); Prnd which encodes Doppel, a testis-specific protein involved in the male reproductive system; and Sprn which encodes the newest PrP-like protein, Shadoo, which is expressed in the CNS. Although the identification of numerous candidate binding partners for PrP(C) has hinted at possible cellular roles, molecular interpretations of PrP(C) activity remain obscure and no widely-accepted view as to PrP(C) function has emerged. Nonetheless, studies into the functional interrelationships of prion proteins have revealed an interesting phenomenon: Doppel is neurotoxic to cerebellar cells in a manner which can be blocked by either PrP(C) or Shadoo. Further examination of this paradigm may help to shed light on two prominent unanswered questions in prion biology: the functional role of PrP(C) and the neurotoxic pathways initiated by PrP(Sc) in prion disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Central Nervous System / pathology
  • Central Nervous System / physiopathology
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Prion Diseases / genetics
  • Prion Diseases / metabolism
  • Prion Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Prions / genetics
  • Prions / metabolism
  • Prions / physiology*


  • Prions