2016 Chemical Biology Program Retreat
YouTube: Cody interviews students and professors at the annual UC Davis Chemical Biology Program Retreat
How Metal Ions in the Brain Tip the Toxic Balance of the Killer Prion Protein
A prion is a misfolded form of the cellular prion protein, PrPC. Although the role of PrP in neurodegeneration was established over 30 years ago, there is little understanding of the protein’s normal function, and how misfolding leads to profound disease. Recent work shows that PrPC coordinates both Cu2+ and Zn2+ and regulates the distribution of these essential metal ions in the brain. Moreover, these metals stabilize a previously unseen fold in PrPC, the observation of which provides new insight into the mechanism of prion disease, and perhaps other neurodegenerative diseases. I will provide a background on prion diseases, discuss magnetic resonance experiments on the metal ion promoted fold, and outline new concepts in PrP-linked neurodegeneration.