Characterization of Anchorless Human PrP With Q227X Stop Mutation Linked to Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker Syndrome In Vivo and In Vitro

Pingping Shen, Johnny Dang, Zerui Wang, Weiguanliu Zhang, Jue Yuan, Yue Lang, Mingxuan Ding, Marcus Mitchell, Qingzhong Kong, Jiachun Feng, Annemiek J.M. Rozemuller, Li Cui, Robert B. Petersen, Wen Quan Zou

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4 Scopus citations


Alteration in cellular prion protein (PrPC) localization on the cell surface through mediation of the glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor has been reported to dramatically affect the formation and infectivity of its pathological isoform (PrPSc). A patient with Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker (GSS) syndrome was previously found to have a nonsense heterozygous PrP-Q227X mutation resulting in an anchorless PrP. However, the allelic origin of this anchorless PrPSc and cellular trafficking of PrPQ227X remain to be determined. Here, we show that PrPSc in the brain of this GSS patient is mainly composed of the mutant but not wild-type PrP (PrPWt), suggesting pathological PrPQ227X is incapable of recruiting PrPWt in vivo. This mutant anchorless protein, however, is able to recruit PrPWt from humanized transgenic mouse brain but not from autopsied human brain homogenates to produce a protease-resistant PrPSc-like form in vitro by protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA). To further investigate the characteristics of this mutation, constructs expressing human PrPQ227X or PrPWt were transfected into neuroblastoma cells (M17). Fractionation of the M17 cells demonstrated that most PrPWt is recovered in the cell lysate fraction, while most of the mutant PrPQ227X is recovered in the medium fraction, consistent with the results obtained by immunofluorescence microscopy. Two-dimensional gel-electrophoresis and Western blotting showed that cellular PrPQ227X spots clustered at molecular weights of 22–25 kDa with an isoelectric point (pI) of 3.5–5.5, whereas protein spots from the medium are at 18–26 kDa with a pI of 7–10. Our findings suggest that the role of GPI anchor in prion propagation between the anchorless mutant PrP and wild-type PrP relies on the cellular distribution of the protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular Neurobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Allelic origin
  • Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker (GSS) syndrome
  • Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor
  • Mutation
  • Prion disease
  • Prion protein
  • Prions
  • Protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA)


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