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      The Biological Function of the Prion Protein: A Cell Surface Scaffold of Signaling Modules


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          The prion glycoprotein (PrP C) is mostly located at the cell surface, tethered to the plasma membrane through a glycosyl-phosphatydil inositol (GPI) anchor. Misfolding of PrP C is associated with the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), whereas its normal conformer serves as a receptor for oligomers of the β-amyloid peptide, which play a major role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). PrP C is highly expressed in both the nervous and immune systems, as well as in other organs, but its functions are controversial. Extensive experimental work disclosed multiple physiological roles of PrP C at the molecular, cellular and systemic levels, affecting the homeostasis of copper, neuroprotection, stem cell renewal and memory mechanisms, among others. Often each such process has been heralded as the bona fide function of PrP C, despite restricted attention paid to a selected phenotypic trait, associated with either modulation of gene expression or to the engagement of PrP C with a single ligand. In contrast, the GPI-anchored prion protein was shown to bind several extracellular and transmembrane ligands, which are required to endow that protein with the ability to play various roles in transmembrane signal transduction. In addition, differing sets of those ligands are available in cell type- and context-dependent scenarios. To account for such properties, we proposed that PrP C serves as a dynamic platform for the assembly of signaling modules at the cell surface, with widespread consequences for both physiology and behavior. The current review advances the hypothesis that the biological function of the prion protein is that of a cell surface scaffold protein, based on the striking similarities of its functional properties with those of scaffold proteins involved in the organization of intracellular signal transduction pathways. Those properties are: the ability to recruit spatially restricted sets of binding molecules involved in specific signaling; mediation of the crosstalk of signaling pathways; reciprocal allosteric regulation with binding partners; compartmentalized responses; dependence of signaling properties upon posttranslational modification; and stoichiometric requirements and/or oligomerization-dependent impact on signaling. The scaffold concept may contribute to novel approaches to the development of effective treatments to hitherto incurable neurodegenerative diseases, through informed modulation of prion protein-ligand interactions.

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          Gene Ontology: tool for the unification of biology

          Genomic sequencing has made it clear that a large fraction of the genes specifying the core biological functions are shared by all eukaryotes. Knowledge of the biological role of such shared proteins in one organism can often be transferred to other organisms. The goal of the Gene Ontology Consortium is to produce a dynamic, controlled vocabulary that can be applied to all eukaryotes even as knowledge of gene and protein roles in cells is accumulating and changing. To this end, three independent ontologies accessible on the World-Wide Web (http://www.geneontology.org) are being constructed: biological process, molecular function and cellular component.
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            Inherent toxicity of aggregates implies a common mechanism for protein misfolding diseases.

            A range of human degenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's disease, light-chain amyloidosis and the spongiform encephalopathies, is associated with the deposition in tissue of proteinaceous aggregates known as amyloid fibrils or plaques. It has been shown previously that fibrillar aggregates that are closely similar to those associated with clinical amyloidoses can be formed in vitro from proteins not connected with these diseases, including the SH3 domain from bovine phosphatidyl-inositol-3'-kinase and the amino-terminal domain of the Escherichia coli HypF protein. Here we show that species formed early in the aggregation of these non-disease-associated proteins can be inherently highly cytotoxic. This finding provides added evidence that avoidance of protein aggregation is crucial for the preservation of biological function and suggests common features in the origins of this family of protein deposition diseases.
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              An introduction to TRP channels.

              The aim of this review is to provide a basic framework for understanding the function of mammalian transient receptor potential (TRP) channels, particularly as they have been elucidated in heterologous expression systems. Mammalian TRP channel proteins form six-transmembrane (6-TM) cation-permeable channels that may be grouped into six subfamilies on the basis of amino acid sequence homology (TRPC, TRPV, TRPM, TRPA, TRPP, and TRPML). Selected functional properties of TRP channels from each subfamily are summarized in this review. Although a single defining characteristic of TRP channel function has not yet emerged, TRP channels may be generally described as calcium-permeable cation channels with polymodal activation properties. By integrating multiple concomitant stimuli and coupling their activity to downstream cellular signal amplification via calcium permeation and membrane depolarization, TRP channels appear well adapted to function in cellular sensation. Our review of recent literature implicating TRP channels in neuronal growth cone steering suggests that TRPs may function more widely in cellular guidance and chemotaxis. The TRP channel gene family and its nomenclature, the encoded proteins and alternatively spliced variants, and the rapidly expanding pharmacology of TRP channels are summarized in online supplemental material.

                Author and article information

                Front Mol Neurosci
                Front Mol Neurosci
                Front. Mol. Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                20 March 2017
                : 10
                : 77
                [1]Laboratory of Neurogenesis, Institute of Biophysics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
                Author notes

                Edited by: Rameshwar K. Sharma, Salus University, USA

                Reviewed by: Anuradha Ratnaparkhi, Agharkar Research Institute, India; Homira Behbahani, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden

                *Correspondence: Rafael Linden rlinden@ 123456biof.ufrj.br
                Copyright © 2017 Linden.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution and reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                : 26 December 2016
                : 06 March 2017
                Page count
                Figures: 6, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 292, Pages: 19, Words: 17754
                Funded by: Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico 10.13039/501100003593
                Funded by: Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio de Janeiro 10.13039/501100004586
                Funded by: Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo 10.13039/501100001807
                Hypothesis and Theory

                prion protein,neurodegeneration,prion diseases,alzheimer disease,signal transduction,cell surface,scaffold proteins,signal corruption


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