Heterologous prion interactions are altered by mutations in the prion protein Rnq1p.

Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.
Prions in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae show a surprising degree of interdependence. Specifically, the rate of appearance of the [PSI+] prion, which is thought to be an important mechanism to respond to changing environmental conditions, is greatly increased by another prion, [RNQ+]. While the domains of the Rnq1 protein important for formation of the [RNQ+] prion have been defined, the specific residues required remain unknown. Furthermore, residues in Rnq1p that mediate the interaction between [PSI+] and [RNQ+] are unknown. To identify residues important for prion protein interactions, we created a mutant library of Rnq1p clones in the context of a chimera that serves as proxy for [RNQ+] aggregates. Several of the mutant Rnq1p proteins showed structural differences in the aggregates they formed, as revealed by semi-denaturing detergent agarose gel electrophoresis. Additionally, several of the mutants showed a striking defect in the ability to promote [PSI+] induction. These data indicate that the mutants formed strain variants of [RNQ+]. By dissecting the mutations in the isolated clones, we found five single mutations that caused [PSI+] induction defects, S223P, F184S, Q239R, N297S, and Q298R. These are the first specific mutations characterized in Rnq1p that alter [PSI+] induction. Additionally, we have identified a region important for the propagation of certain strain variants of [RNQ+]. Deletion of this region (amino acids 284-317) affected propagation of the high variant but not medium or low [RNQ+] strain variants. Furthermore, when the low [RNQ+] strain variant was propagated by Delta284-317, [PSI+] induction was greatly increased. These data suggest that this region is important in defining the structure of the [RNQ+] strain variants. These data are consistent with a model of [PSI+] induction caused by physical interactions between Rnq1p and Sup35p.
Mesh Terms:
Amino Acid Substitution, DNA Mutational Analysis, Mutation, Missense, Peptide Termination Factors, Prions, Protein Binding, Protein Interaction Mapping, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Saccharomyces cerevisiae Proteins
J. Mol. Biol. May. 08, 2009; 388(3);583-96 [PUBMED:19324054]
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