TitleDestabilization of polar interactions in the prion protein triggers misfolding and oligomerization.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsBhate SH, Udgaonkar JB, Das R
JournalProtein Sci
Date Published2021 Sep 23

The prion protein (PrP) misfolds and oligomerizes at pH 4 in the presence of physiological salt concentrations. Low pH and salt cause structural perturbations in the monomeric prion protein that leads to misfolding and oligomerization. However, the changes in stability within different regions of the PrP prior to oligomerization are poorly understood. In this study, we have characterized the local stability in PrP at high resolution using amide temperature coefficients (T ) measured by NMR spectroscopy. The local stability of PrP was investigated under native as well as oligomerizing conditions. We have also studied the rapidly oligomerizing PrP variant (Q216R) and the protective PrP variant (A6). We report that at low pH, salt destabilizes PrP at several polar residues, and the hydrogen bonds in helices α2 and α3 are weakened. In addition, salt changes the curvature of the α3 helix, which likely disrupts α2-α3 contacts and leads to oligomerization. These results are corroborated by the T values of rapidly oligomerizing Q216R-PrP. The poly-alanine substitution in A6-PrP stabilizes α2, which prevents oligomerization. Altogether, these results highlight the importance of native polar interactions in determining the stability of PrP and reveal the structural disruptions in PrP that lead to misfolding and oligomerization. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Alternate JournalProtein Sci
PubMed ID34558139