A conformational transition of the cellular prion protein (PrPC
) into an aberrantly folded isoform designated scrapie prion protein (PrPSc
) is the hallmark of a variety of neurodegenerative disorders collectively called prion diseases. They include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Gerstmann-Stäussler-Scheinker syndrome in humans, scrapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and chronic wasting disease (CWD) in free-ranging deer. In contrast to the deadly properties of misfolded PrP, PrPC
seems to possess a neuroprotective activity. More-over, animal models indicated that the stress-protective activity of PrPC
and the neurotoxic effects of PrPSc
are somehow interconnected.
In this timely book, leading scientists in the field have come together to highlight the apparently incongruous activities of different PrP conformers. The articles outline current research on celluar pathways implicated in the formation and signaling of neurotoxic and physiological PrP isoforms and delineate future research direction. Topics covered include the physiologcial activity of PrPC and its possible role as a neurotrophic factor, the finding that aberrant PrP conformers can cause neurodegeneration in the absence of infectious prion propagation, the requirement of the GPI anchor of PrPC for the neurotoxic effects of scrapie prions, the pathways implicated in the formation and neurotoxic properties of cytosolically localized PrP, the impact of metal ions on the processing of PrP, and the role of autophagy in the propagation and clearance of PrPSc. The book is fully illustrated and chapters include comprehensive reference sections.
Essential reading for scientists involved in prion research.