Since Reed Wickner first proposed that otherwise obscure non-Mendelian states in S. cerevisiae, [URE3] and [PST], result from prion-like conversions of endogenous proteins, fungal prions in general and [PST] in particular, have proven to be uniquely powerful systems for exploring universal features of prion biology. A few ofthe major insights include direct demonstrafion ofthe protein only hypothesis of prion inheritance, elucidafion of molecular basis of prion strains as being enciphered in the conformation ofthe infectious protein, discovery of a proliferation of novel prion proteins and the suggestion that prion-based inheritance could be a ubiquitous mechanism for epigenetic control of protein function, and revelation that the host chaperone machinery plays a crifical role in catalyzing prion replication. As with all experiments, these findings also raise a host of fundamental questions such as the structural basis ofthe different strain conformations, how these different conformations are inherited and why do they differentially impact a cell's physiology, and perhaps most profoundly what is the biological role of prions. We now have the tools and the intellectual foundafion to begin to provide clear and concrete answers to these questions. These insights in turn should directly inform efforts to understand the principles of prion infectivity for the mammalian PrP protein and more generally to advance our understanding of how and why proteins misfold and how such misfolded forms impact a cell in both disease and non disease states. To accomplish this, we propose to focus on the following three areas: Define the structural basis of prion strain variants. Define how the primary structure of prion determines the spectrum of preferred strain variants Use ribosome profiling to define the physiological impact ofthe [PST] prion and how the prion strain conformation as well as the genetic background ofthe yeast modulate these effects.

Public Health Relevance

Protein misfolding is a hallmark of a wide range of neurodegenerative disorders including prion diseases and far more common noninfectious disease such as Alzheimers and Parkinson.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Research Program Projects (P01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZAG1-ZIJ-6)
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California San Francisco
San Francisco
United States
Zip Code
Watts, Joel C; Giles, Kurt; Patel, Smita et al. (2014) Evidence that bank vole PrP is a universal acceptor for prions. PLoS Pathog 10:e1003990
Watts, Joel C; Prusiner, Stanley B (2014) Mouse models for studying the formation and propagation of prions. J Biol Chem 289:19841-9
Watts, Joel C; Condello, Carlo; Stöhr, Jan et al. (2014) Serial propagation of distinct strains of A? prions from Alzheimer's disease patients. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:10323-8
Burré, Jacqueline; Sharma, Manu; Südhof, Thomas C (2014) ?-Synuclein assembles into higher-order multimers upon membrane binding to promote SNARE complex formation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:E4274-83
Chanda, Soham; Ang, Cheen Euong; Davila, Jonathan et al. (2014) Generation of induced neuronal cells by the single reprogramming factor ASCL1. Stem Cell Reports 3:282-96
Ang, Cheen Euong; Wernig, Marius (2014) Induced neuronal reprogramming. J Comp Neurol 522:2877-86
Silber, B Michael; Gever, Joel R; Rao, Satish et al. (2014) Novel compounds lowering the cellular isoform of the human prion protein in cultured human cells. Bioorg Med Chem 22:1960-72
Stöhr, Jan; Condello, Carlo; Watts, Joel C et al. (2014) Distinct synthetic A? prion strains producing different amyloid deposits in bigenic mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 111:10329-34
Li, Zhe; Gever, Joel; Rao, Satish et al. (2013) Discovery and Preliminary SAR of Arylpiperazines as Novel, Brainpenetrant Antiprion Compounds. ACS Med Chem Lett 4:397-401
Berry, David B; Lu, Duo; Geva, Michal et al. (2013) Drug resistance confounding prion therapeutics. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110:E4160-9

Showing the most recent 10 out of 133 publications