Structural and dynamic properties of the human prion protein

Wei Chen, Marc W van der Kamp, Valerie Daggett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Prion diseases involve the conformational conversion of the cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) to its misfolded pathogenic form (PrP(Sc)). To better understand the structural mechanism of this conversion, we performed extensive all-atom, explicit-solvent molecular-dynamics simulations for three structures of the wild-type human PrP (huPrP) at different pH values and temperatures. Residue 129 is polymorphic, being either Met or Val. Two of the three structures have Met in position 129 and the other has Val. Lowering the pH or raising the temperature induced large conformational changes of the C-terminal globular domain and increased exposure of its hydrophobic core. In some simulations, HA and its preceding S1-HA loop underwent large displacements. The C-terminus of HB was unstable and sometimes partially unfolded. Two hydrophobic residues, Phe-198 and Met-134, frequently became exposed to solvent. These conformational changes became more dramatic at lower pH or higher temperature. Furthermore, Tyr-169 and the S2-HB loop, or the X-loop, were different in the starting structures but converged to common conformations in the simulations for the Met-129, but not the Val-129, protein. α-Strands and β-strands formed in the initially unstructured N-terminus. α-Strand propensity in the N-terminus was different between the Met-129 and Val129 proteins, but β-strand propensity was similar. This study reveals detailed structural and dynamic properties of huPrP, providing insight into the mechanism of the conversion of PrP(C) to PrP(Sc).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1152-63
Number of pages12
JournalBiophysical Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2014

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Copyright © 2014 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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