There is a limited understanding of structural attributes that encode the iatrogenic transmissibility and various phenotypes of prions causing the most common human prion disease, sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD). Here we report the detailed structural differences between major sCJD MM1, MM2, and VV2 prions determined with two complementary synchrotron hydroxyl radical footprinting techniques—mass spectrometry (MS) and conformation dependent immunoassay (CDI) with a panel of Europium-labeled antibodies. Both approaches clearly demonstrate that the phenotypically distant prions differ in a major way with regard to their structural organization, and synchrotron-generated hydroxyl radicals progressively inhibit their seeding potency in a strain and structure-specific manner. Moreover, the seeding rate of sCJD prions is primarily determined by strain-specific structural organization of solvent-exposed external domains of human prion particles that control the seeding activity. Structural characteristics of human prion strains suggest that subtle changes in the organization of surface domains play a critical role as a determinant of human prion infectivity, propagation rate, and targeting of specific brain structures.
prions, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, prion diseases, synchrotrons, hydroxylation, hydroxyl radicals, monomers, proteases
© 2021 Siddiqi et al.
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Siddiqi MK, Kim C, Haldiman T, Kacirova M, Wang B, Bohon J, et al. (2021) Structurally distinct external solvent-exposed domains drive replication of major human prions. PLoS Pathog 17(6): e1009642. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1009642