Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Metabolic Biochemistry

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Cationic lipopolyamines induce degradation of PrPSc in scrapie-infected mouse neuroblastoma cells

Biol Chem 381(5-6): 463-9

Authors/Editors: Winklhofer KF
Publication Date: 2000
Type of Publication: Journal Article
In prion diseases the endogenous prion protein (PrPC) is converted into an abnormally folded isoform, denoted PrPSc, which represents the major component of infectious scrapie prions. The mechanism of the conversion is largely unknown, but the conversion is thought to occur after PrPC has reached the plasma membrane. Here we show that exogenous administration of the cationic lipopolyamine DOSPA interfered with the accumulation of PrPSc in scrapie-infected neuroblastoma cells. Structural analysis of the compounds tested revealed that inhibition of PrPSc was specific for lipids with a headgroup composed of the polyamine spermine and a quarternary ammonium ion between the headgroup and the lipophilic tail. The cationic lipopolyamine DOSPA induced the cellular degradation of preexisting PrPSc aggregates within 12 hours and interfered with the de novo synthesis of PrPSc. Biosynthesis of PrPC, or the assembly of sphingolipid-cholesterol microdomains (rafts) on the plasma membrane, were not affected by this inhibitor. After removal of DOSPA and replating into normal medium propagation of PrPSc commenced, although initially at a reduced rate. Incubation of ScN2a cells in free spermidine had no inhibitory effect on the accumulation of PrPSc. Our results indicate that membrane targeting of a small polyamine molecule creates a potent inhibitor of PrPSc propagation and offers the possibility to degrade preexisting PrPSc aggregates in living cells.

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