The Journal of biological chemistry

Effect of glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor-dependent and -independent prion protein association with model raft membranes on conversion to the protease-resistant isoform.

PMID 12594216


Prion protein (PrP) is usually bound to membranes by a glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor that associates with detergent-resistant membranes, or rafts. To examine the effect of membrane association on the interaction between the normal protease-sensitive PrP isoform (PrP-sen) and the protease-resistant isoform (PrP-res), a model system was employed using PrP-sen reconstituted into sphingolipid-cholesterol-rich raft-like liposomes (SCRLs). Both full-length (GPI(+)) and GPI anchor-deficient (GPI(-)) PrP-sen produced in fibroblasts stably associated with SCRLs. The latter, alternative mode of membrane association was not detectably altered by glycosylation and was markedly reduced by deletion of residues 34-94. The SCRL-associated PrP molecules were not removed by treatments with either high salt or carbonate buffer. However, only GPI(+) PrP-sen resisted extraction with cold Triton X-100. PrP-sen association with SCRLs was pH-independent. PrP-sen was also one of a small subset of phosphatidylinositol-specific phospholipase C (PI-PLC)-released proteins from fibroblast cells found to bind SCRLs. A cell-free conversion assay was used to measure the interaction of SCRL-bound PrP-sen with exogenous PrP-res as contained in microsomes. SCRL-bound GPI(+) PrP-sen was not converted to PrP-res until PI-PLC was added to the reaction or the combined membrane fractions were treated with the membrane-fusing agent polyethylene glycol (PEG). In contrast, SCRL-bound GPI(-) PrP-sen was converted to PrP-res without PI-PLC or PEG treatment. Thus, of the two forms of raft membrane association by PrP-sen, only the GPI anchor-directed form resists conversion induced by exogenous PrP-res.