Research Article

Support for the Prion Hypothesis for Inheritance of a Phenotypic Trait in Yeast

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Science  02 Aug 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5275, pp. 622-626
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5275.622


A cytoplasmically inherited genetic element in yeast, [PSI+], was confirmed to be a prionlike aggregate of the cellular protein Sup35 by differential centrifugation analysis and microscopic localization of a Sup35—green fluorescent protein fusion. Aggregation depended on the intracellular concentration and functional state of the chaperone protein Hsp104 in the same manner as did [PSI+] inheritance. The amino-terminal and carboxy-terminal domains of Sup35 contributed to the unusual behavior of [PSI+]. [PSI+] altered the conformational state of newly synthesized prion proteins, inducing them to aggregate as well, thus fulfilling a major tenet of the prion hypothesis.