Interaction between misfolded PrP and the ubiquitin-proteasome system in prion-mediated neurodegeneration.
Prion diseases are associated with the conformational conversion of cellular prion protein (PrPC) to pathological β-sheet isoforms (PrPSc), which is the infectious agent beyond comprehension. Increasing evidence indicated that an unknown toxic gain of function of PrPsc underlies neuronal death. Conversely, strong evidence indicated that cellular prion protein might be directly cytotoxic by mediating neurotoxic signaling of β-sheet-rich conformers independent of prion replication. Furthermore, the common properties of β-sheet-rich isoform such as PrPSc and β amyloid protein become the lynchpin that interprets the general pathological mechanism of protein misfolding diseases. Dysfunction of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) has been implicated in various protein misfolding diseases. However, the mechanisms of this impairment remain unknown in many cases. In prion disease, prion-infected mouse brains have increased levels of ubiquitin conjugates, which correlate with decreased proteasome function. Both PrPC and PrPSc accumulate in cells after proteasome inhibition, which leads to increased cell death. A direct interaction between 20S core particle and PrP isoforms was demonstrated. Here we review the ability of misfolded PrP and UPS to affect each other, which might contribute to the pathological features of prion-mediated neurodegeneration.