Naturally occurring neuron-abundant proteins including amyloid Aβ42 peptide and the microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT) can, over time and under pathological situations, assume atypical conformations, altering their normal biological structure and function, and causing them to aggregate into insoluble and neurotoxic intracellular inclusions. These misfolded proteins ultimately contribute to the pathogenesis of several progressive, age-related and ultimately lethal human neurodegenerative disorders. The molecular mechanism of this pathological phenomenon of neuronal protein misfolding lends support to the ‘prion hypothesis’, which predicts that the aberrant folding of endogenous natural protein structures into unusual pathogenic isoforms can induce the atypical folding of other similar brain-abundant proteins, underscoring the age-related, progressive nature and potential transmissible and spreading capabilities of the aberrant protein isoforms that drive these invariably fatal neurological syndromes. The abnormal folding and aggregation of host proteins is a consistent feature of both amyloidopathies and tauopathies that encompass a continuous spectrum of brain diseases that include Alzheimer’s disease (AD), prion disorders (PrD) such as scrapie in sheep and goats (Bovidae), experimental prion infection of rodents (Muridae), Creutzfeldt– Jakob disease (CJD) and Gerstmann–Sträussler–Scheinker syndrome (GSS) in humans (Hominidae), and other fatal prion-driven neurological disorders. Because AD patients accumulate both misfolded tau and Aβ peptides, AD may be somewhat unique as the first example of a ‘double prion disorder’. This commentary will examine current research trends in this fascinating research area, with a special emphasis on AD and PrD, and the novel pathological misfolded protein processes common to both intractable neurological disorders.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Lukiw, Walter J., "Recent Advances In Our Molecular And Mechanistic Understanding Of Misfolded Cellular Proteins In Alzheimer’s Disease (ad) And Prion Disease (prd)" (2022). School of Medicine Faculty Publications. 1345.