Prions are self-seeding alternate protein conformations. Most yeast prions contain glutamine/asparagine (Q/N)-rich domains that promote the formation of amyloid-like prion aggregates. Chaperones, including Hsp104 and Sis1, are required to continually break these aggregates into smaller “seeds.” Decreasing aggregate size and increasing the number of growing aggregate ends facilitates both aggregate transmission and growth. Our previous work showed that overexpression of 11 proteins with Q/N-rich domains facilitates the de novo aggregation of Sup35 into the [PSI+] prion, presumably by a cross-seeding mechanism. We now discuss our recent paper, in which we showed that overexpression of most of these same 11 Q/N-rich proteins, including Pin4C and Cyc8, destabilized pre-existing Q/N rich prions. Overexpression of both Pin4C and Cyc8 caused [PSI+] aggregates to enlarge. This is incompatible with a previously proposed “capping” model where the overexpressed Q/N-rich protein poisons, or “caps,” the growing aggregate ends. Rather the data match what is expected of a reduction in prion severing by chaperones. Indeed, while Pin4C overexpression does not alter chaperone levels, Pin4C aggregates sequester chaperones away from the prion aggregates. Cyc8 overexpression cures [PSI+] by inducing an increase in Hsp104 levels, as excess Hsp104 binds to [PSI+] aggregates in a way that blocks their shearing.
Z Yang, JY Hong, IL Derkatch, SW Liebman. Heterologous gln/asn-rich proteins impede the propagation of yeast prions by altering chaperone availability. PLoS Genet 2013; 9: e1003236.
PMID: 23358669 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003236