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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Inhibition of protease-resistant prion protein formation by porphyrins and phthalocyanines.

A central aspect of pathogenesis in the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies or prion diseases is the conversion of normal protease-sensitive prion protein (PrP-sen) to the abnormal protease-resistant form, PrP-res. Here we identify porphyrins and phthalocyanines as inhibitors of PrP-res accumulation. The most potent of these tetrapyrroles had IC50 values of 0.5-1 microM in scrapie-infected mouse neuroblastoma (ScNB) cell cultures. Inhibition was observed without effects on protein biosynthesis in general or PrP-sen biosynthesis in particular. Tetrapyrroles also inhibited PrP-res formation in a cell-free reaction composed predominantly of hamster PrP-res and PrP-sen. Inhibitors were found among phthalocyanines, deuteroporphyrins IX, and meso-substituted porphines; examples included compounds containing anionic, neutral protic, and cationic peripheral substituents and various metals. We conclude that certain tetrapyrroles specifically inhibit the conversion of PrP-sen to PrP-res without apparent cytotoxic effects. The inhibition observed in the cell-free conversion reaction suggests that the mechanism involved direct interactions of the tetrapyrrole with PrP-res and/or PrP-sen. These findings introduce a new class of inhibitors of PrP-res formation that represents a potential source of therapeutic agents for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.[1]


  1. Inhibition of protease-resistant prion protein formation by porphyrins and phthalocyanines. Caughey, W.S., Raymond, L.D., Horiuchi, M., Caughey, B. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1998) [Pubmed]
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