Influence of divalent copper, manganese and zinc ions on fibril nucleation and elongation of the amyloid-like yeast prion determinant Sup35p-NM

J Inorg Biochem. 2009 Dec;103(12):1711-20. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2009.09.021. Epub 2009 Sep 29.


There is a large body of evidence that divalent metal ions, particularly copper, might play a role in several protein folding pathologies like Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease or the prion diseases. However, contribution of metal ions on pathogenesis and their molecular influence on the formation of amyloid structures is not clear. Therefore, the general influence of metals on the formation of amyloids is still controversially discussed. We have utilized the well established system of yeast Sup35p-NM to investigate the role of three different metal ions, Cu(2+), Mn(2+) and Zn(2+), on amyloidogenesis. Recently, it has been shown that the prion determining region NM of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae prion protein Sup35p, which is responsible for the yeast prion phenotype [PSI(+)], specifically binds Cu(2+) ions. We further characterized the affinity of NM for Cu(2+), which were found to be comparable to that of other amyloidogenic proteins like the mammalian prion protein PrP. The specific binding sites could be located in the aminoterminal N-region which is known to initiate formation of amyloidogenic nuclei. In the presence of Cu(2+), fibril nucleation was significantly delayed, probably due to influences of copper on the oligomeric ensemble of soluble Sup35p-NM, since Cu(2+) altered the tertiary structure of soluble Sup35p-NM, while no influences on fibril elongation could be detected. The secondary structure of soluble or fibrous protein and the morphology of the fibrils were apparently not altered when assembled in presence of Cu(2+). In contrast, Mn(2+) and Zn(2+) did not bind to Sup35p-NM and did not exhibit significant effects on the formation of NM amyloid fibrils.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amyloid / metabolism*
  • Amyloid / ultrastructure
  • Copper / metabolism*
  • Manganese / metabolism*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptide Termination Factors / chemistry
  • Peptide Termination Factors / metabolism*
  • Prions / metabolism*
  • Protein Folding
  • Protein Structure, Secondary
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / metabolism
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / chemistry
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins / metabolism*
  • Zinc / metabolism*


  • Amyloid
  • Peptide Termination Factors
  • Prions
  • SUP35 protein, S cerevisiae
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
  • Manganese
  • Copper
  • Zinc