Carola Munoz-Montesino, Christina Sizun, Mohammed Moudjou, Laetitia Herzog, Fabienne Reine, Angelique Igel-Egalon, Clément Barbereau, Jérôme Chapuis, Danica Ciric, Hubert Laude, Vincent Béringue, Human Rezaei, Michel Dron
Mapping out regions of PrP influencing prion conversion remains a challenging issue complicated by the lack of prion structure. The portion of PrP associated with infectivity contains the α-helical domain of the correctly folded protein and turns into a β-sheet-rich insoluble core in prions. Deletions performed so far inside this segment essentially prevented the conversion. Recently we found that deletion of the last C-terminal residues of the helix H2 was fully compatible with prion conversion in the RK13-ovPrP cell culture model, using 3 different infecting strains. This was in agreement with preservation of the overall PrPC structure even after removal of up to one-third of this helix. Prions with internal deletion were infectious for cells and mice expressing the wild-type PrP and they retained prion strain-specific characteristics. We thus identified a piece of the prion domain that is neither necessary for the conformational transition of PrPC nor for the formation of a stable prion structure.