NMR structure of the human prion protein with the pathological Q212P mutation reveals unique structural features

Gregor Ilc, Gabriele Giachin, Mariusz Jaremko, Łukasz Jaremko, Federico Benetti, Janez Plavec, Igor Zhukov, Giuseppe Legname*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Prion diseases are fatal neurodegenerative disorders caused by an aberrant accumulation of the misfolded cellular prion protein (PrPC) conformer, denoted as infectious scrapie isoform or PrPSc. In inherited human prion diseases, mutations in the open reading frame of the PrP gene (PRNP) are hypothesized to favor spontaneous generation of PrPSc in specific brain regions leading to neuronal cell degeneration and death. Here, we describe the NMR solution structure of the truncated recombinant human PrP from residue 90 to 231 carrying the Q212P mutation, which is believed to cause Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker (GSS) syndrome, a familial prion disease. The secondary structure of the Q212P mutant consists of a flexible disordered tail (residues 90-124) and a globular domain (residues 125-231). The substitution of a glutamine by a proline at the position 212 introduces novel structural differences in comparison to the known wild-type PrP structures. The most remarkable differences involve the C-terminal end of the protein and the b2-a2 loop region. This structure might provide new insights into the early events of conformational transition of PrPC into PrPSc. Indeed, the spontaneous formation of prions in familial cases might be due to the disruptions of the hydrophobic core consisting of b2-a2 loop and a3 helix.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere11715
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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