Prion formation involves the conversion of soluble proteins into an infectious amyloid form. This process is highly specific, with prion aggregates templating the conversion of identical proteins. However, in some cases non-identical prion proteins can interact to promote or inhibit prion formation or propagation. These interactions affect both the efficiency with which prion diseases are transmitted across species and the normal physiology of yeast prion formation and propagation. Here we examine two types of heterologous prion interactions: interactions between related proteins from different species (the species barrier) and interactions between unrelated prion proteins within a single species. Interestingly, although very subtle changes in protein sequence can significantly reduce or eliminate cross-species prion transmission, in Saccharomyces cerevisiae completely unrelated prion proteins can interact to affect prion formation and propagation.
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