The binding of the molecular chaperone Hsc70 to the prion protein PrP is modulated by pH and copper

Simon Wilkins, Ashraf A Choglay, J Paul Paul Chapple, Jacqueline van der Spuy, Alexandre Rhie, Christopher R Birkett, Michael E Cheetham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Conformational transitions in the prion protein (PrP) are thought to be central to the pathogenesis of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), such as Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Studies of prion phenomena in yeast have shown that molecular chaperones play an important role in prion related conformational transitions. Here, we investigated the interaction of the molecular chaperone Hsc70 (HSPA8) with recombinant PrP in vitro using an ELISA based assay. Hsc70 bound to PrP in a saturable manner over a range of temperatures and binding was greatest at low pH. Surprisingly, Hsc70 bound more avidly to native recombinant PrP than to denatured PrP or other potential clients, such as denatured luciferase or rhodanese. Hsc70 binding to native PrP was enhanced by incubation with Cu(2+) at low pH. The Hsc70 binding sites in PrP were analysed using a synthetic PrP-derived peptide array. The binding of Hsc70 to PrP was reminiscent of the published ovine PrP to bovine PrP binding data and included two potential regions of binding that correspond to the proposed protein X binding sites in PrP. Synthetic peptides corresponding to these sites specifically inhibited the Hsc70 interaction with native PrP, further demonstrating that Hsc70 might interact with PrP via this epitope. The data suggest that molecular chaperones could modulate important PrP conformational transitions or protein-protein interactions in TSE pathogenesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1226 - 1232
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Cite this