The C-terminal globular domain of the prion protein is necessary and sufficient for import into the endoplasmic reticulum
J Biol Chem 279(7): 5435-43
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The mammalian prion protein (PrP) is composed of an unstructured flexible N-terminal region and a C-terminal globular domain. We examined the import of PrP into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of neuronal cells and show that information present in the C-terminal globular domain is required for ER import of the N terminus. N-terminal fragments of PrP, devoid of structural domains located in the C terminus, remained in the cytosol with an uncleaved signal peptide and were rapidly degraded by the proteasome. Conversely, the separate C-terminal domain of PrP, comprising the highly ordered helix 2-loop-helix 3 motif, was entirely imported into the ER. As a consequence, two PrP mutants linked to inherited prion disease in humans, PrP-W145Stop and PrP-Q160Stop, were partially retained in the cytosol. The cytosolic fraction was characterized by an uncleaved N-terminal signal peptide and was degraded by the proteasome. Our study identified a new regulatory element in the C-terminal globular domain of PrP necessary and sufficient to promote import of PrP into the ER.