R.R. Reimann; M. Puzio; A. Rosati; M. Emmenegger; B.L. Schneider; P. Valdés; D. Huang; A. Caflisch; A. Aguzzi

Journal: Brain Pathol.
Year: 2023
Volume: 33
Issue: 2
Pages: e13130
Type of Publication: Journal Article

neurodegeneration; prion disease; reverse genetic


The cellular prion protein PrPC mediates the neurotoxicity of prions and other protein aggregates through poorly understood mechanisms. Antibody-derived ligands against the globular domain of PrPC (GDL) can also initiate neurotoxicity by inducing an intramolecular R208-H140 hydrogen bond (“H-latch”) between the α2-α3 and β2-α2 loops of PrPC. Importantly, GDL that suppresses the H-latch prolong the life of prion-infected mice, suggesting that GDL toxicity and prion infections exploit convergent pathways. To define the structural underpinnings of these phenomena, we transduced 19 individual PrPC variants to PrPC-deficient cerebellar organotypic cultured slices using adenovirus-associated viral vectors (AAV). We report that GDL toxicity requires a single N-proximal cationic residue (K27 or R27) within PrPC. Alanine substitution of K27 also prevented the toxicity of PrPC mutants that induce Shmerling syndrome, a neurodegenerative disease that is suppressed by co-expression of wild-type PrPC. K27 may represent an actionable target for compounds aimed at preventing prion-related neurodegeneration.