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Differences in the Curing of [PSI+] Prion by Various Methods of Hsp104 Inactivation

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037692
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Mycology
  • Yeast
  • Model Organisms
  • Yeast And Fungal Models
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Prion Diseases


[PSI+] yeast, containing the misfolded amyloid conformation of Sup35 prion, is cured by inactivation of Hsp104. There has been controversy as to whether inactivation of Hsp104 by guanidine treatment or by overexpression of the dominant negative Hsp104 mutant, Hsp104-2KT, cures [PSI+] by the same mechanism– inhibition of the severing of the prion seeds. Using live cell imaging of Sup35-GFP, overexpression of Hsp104-2KT caused the foci to increase in size, then decrease in number, and finally disappear when the cells were cured, similar to that observed in cells cured by depletion of Hsp104. In contrast, guanidine initially caused an increase in foci size but then the foci disappeared before the cells were cured. By starving the yeast to make the foci visible in cells grown with guanidine, the number of cells with foci was found to correlate exactly with the number of [PSI+] cells, regardless of the curing method. Therefore, the fluorescent foci are the prion seeds required for maintenance of [PSI+] and inactivation of Hsp104 cures [PSI+] by preventing severing of the prion seeds. During curing with guanidine, the reduction in seed size is an Hsp104-dependent effect that cannot be explained by limited severing of the seeds. Instead, in the presence of guanidine, Hsp104 retains an activity that trims or reduces the size of the prion seeds by releasing Sup35 molecules that are unable to form new prion seeds. This Hsp104 activity may also occur in propagating yeast.

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