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REVIEW: Interspecies Transmission of Prions

E. G. Afanasieva, V. V. Kushnirov, and M. D. Ter-Avanesyan*

Bach Institute of Biochemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninsky pr. 33, 119071 Moscow, Russia; E-mail: mdter@inbi.ras.ru

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received February 21, 2011; Revision received March 21, 2011
Mammalian prions are infectious agents of proteinaceous nature that cause several incurable neurodegenerative diseases. Interspecies transmission of prions is usually impeded or impossible. Barriers in prion transmission are caused by small interspecies differences in the primary structure of prion proteins. The barriers can also depend on the strain (variant) of a transmitted prion. Interspecies barriers were also shown for yeast prions, which define some heritable phenotypes. Yeast prions reproduce all the main traits of prion transmission barriers observed for mammals. This allowed to show that the barrier in prion transmission can be observed even upon copolymerization of two prionogenic proteins. Available data allow elucidation of the mechanisms that impede prion transmission or make it impossible.
KEY WORDS: interspecies barrier, prions, PrP, [PSI+], yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae

DOI: 10.1134/S0006297911130013