Prion protein glycosylation is sensitive to redox change

Sabina Capellari, Syed I.A. Zaidi, Cynthia B. Urig, George Perry, Mark A. Smith, Robert B. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The conversion of soluble prion protein into an insoluble, pathogenic, protease-resistant isoform is a key event in the development of prion diseases. Although the mechanism by which the conversion engenders a pathogenic event is unclear, there is increasing evidence to suggest that this may depend on the function of the prion protein in preventing oxidative damage. Therefore, in this study, we assessed the interrelationship between redox-sensitive cysteine, glycosylation, and prion metabolism. Cells were treated with a thioreductant, dithiothreitol, to assess the effect of the cellular oxidation state on the synthesis of the prion protein. This change in redox balance affected the glycosylation of the prion protein, resulting in the sole production of glycosylated forms. The role of the single disulfide bridge in mediating this effect within the prion protein was confirmed by mutating the cysteine residues involved in its formation. These data suggest that conditions that increase the rate of formation of the disulfide bridge favor formation of the unglycosylated prion protein. Thus, since the presence of glycans on the prion protein is protective against its pathogenic conversion, a change in the redox status of the cell would increase the risk of developing a prion disease by favoring the production of the unglycosylated form.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34846-34850
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number49
StatePublished - Dec 3 1999


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