Identification of Novel Proteinase K-resistant C-terminal Fragments of PrP in Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease

Wen Quan Zou, Sabina Capellari, Piero Parchi, Man Sun Sy, Pierluigi Gambetti, Shu G. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The central event in the pathogenesis of prion diseases, a group of fatal, transmissible neurodegenerative disorders including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans, is the conversion of the normal or cellular prion protein (PrPC) into the abnormal or scrapie isoform (PrPSc). The basis of the PrPC to PrPSc conversion is thought to involve the diminution of α-helical domains accompanied by the increase of β structures within the PrP molecule. Consequently, treatment of PrPSc with proteinase K (PK) generates a large PK-resistant C-terminal core fragment termed PrP27-30 that in human prion diseases has a gel mobility of ∼19-21 kDa for the unglycosylated form, and a ragged N terminus between residues 78 and 103. PrP27-30 is considered the pathogenic and infectious core of PrPSc. Here we report the identification of two novel PK-resistant, but much smaller C-terminal fragments of PrP (PrP-CTF 12/13) in brains of subjects with sporadic CJD. PrP-CTF 12/13, like PrP27-30, derive from both glycosylated as well as unglycosylated forms. The unglycosylated PrP-CTF 12/13 migrate at 12 and 13 kDa and have the N terminus at residues 162/167 and 154/156, respectively. Therefore, PrP-CTF12/13 are 64-76 amino acids N-terminally shorter than PrP27-30 and are about half of the size of PrP27-30. PrP-CTF12/13 are likely to originate from a subpopulation of PrP Sc distinct from that which generates PrP27-30. The finding of PrP-CTF12/13 in CJD brains widens the heterogeneity of the PK-resistant PrP fragments associated with prion diseases and may provide useful insights toward the understanding of the PrPSc structure and its formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40429-40436
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number42
Publication statusPublished - Oct 17 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry


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