Prion Protein Protects Human Neurons against Bax-mediated Apoptosis
The function of the cellular prion protein (PrP) is still poorly understood. We present here an unprecedented role for PrP against Bax-mediated neuronal apoptosis and show that PrP potently inhibits Bax-induced cell death in human primary neurons. Deletion of four octapeptide repeats of PrP (PrP[Delta]OR) and familial D178N and T183A PrP mutations completely or partially eliminate the neuroprotective effect of PrP. PrP remains anti-apoptotic despite truncation of the glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor signal peptide, indicating that the neuroprotective form of PrP does not require the abundant cell surface GPI-anchored PrP. Our results implicate PrP as a potent and novel anti-apoptotic protein against Bax-mediated cell death.