Global collaboration uncovers new information about disease-causing proteins

Prions are protein aggregates that can be transmitted between cells and are associated with human diseases including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and in neurodegeneration as observed in ALS. Despite the important role of prion-like domains in human diseases, much about them remains a mystery.

For the first time, an international team of researchers involving Washington University in St. Louis has identified a benign but biologically relevant function of prion domains. Uncovering this function is an essential first step to understanding the biological role of prion domains, and their transformation into a pathological disease-causing state.

The team includes Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics (MPI-CBG), the Biotechnology Center of the TU Dresden (BIOTEC), and Rohit Pappu, the Edwin H. Murty Professor of Engineering at Washington University's School of Engineering & Applied Science.

The new findings were recently published in Science.