Washington University in St. Louis

Publication for Laura Westergard and Heather True.

Congratulations to Laura and Heather on their newest publication in Molecular Microbiology!

Westergard, L, and True, HL.  (2014)  Wild yeast harbour a variety of distinct amyloid structures with strong prion-inducing capabilities.  Mol Microbiol. Apr;92(1):183-193. [E-published March 7]

Abstract:  Variation in amyloid structures profoundly influences a wide array of pathological phenotypes in mammalian protein conformation disorders and dominantly inherited phenotypes in yeast. Here, we describe, for the first time, naturally occurring, self-propagating, structural variants of a prion protein isolated from wild strains of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Variants of the [RNQ(+) ] prion propagating in a variety of wild yeast differ biochemically, in their intracellular distributions, and in their ability to promote formation of the [PSI(+) ] prion. [PSI(+) ] is an epigenetic regulator of cellular phenotype and adaptability. Strikingly, we find that most natural [RNQ(+) ] variants induced [PSI(+) ] at high frequencies and the majority of [PSI(+) ] variants elicited strong cellular phenotypes. We hypothesize that the presence of an efficient [RNQ(+) ] template primes the cell for [PSI(+) ] formation in order to induce [PSI(+) ] in conditions where it would be advantageous. These studies utilize naturally occurring structural variants to expand our understanding of the consequences of diverse prion conformations on cellular phenotypes.

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