Background: The cellular prion protein (PrPC) plays a key role in the pathogenesis of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies in which the protein undergoes post-translational conversion to the infectious form (PrPSc). Although endocytosis appears to be required for this conversion, the mechanism of PrPC internalization is still debated, as caveolae/raft- and clathrin-dependent processes have all been reported to be involved. Methodology/Principal Findings: We have investigated the mechanism of PrPC endocytosis in Fischer Rat Thyroid (FRT) cells, which lack caveolin-1 (cav-1) and caveolae, and in FRT/cav-1 cells which form functional caveolae. We show that PrPC internalization requires activated Cdc-42 and is sensitive to cholesterol depletion but not to cav-1 expression suggesting a role for rafts but not for caveolae in PrPC endocytosis. PrPC internalization is also affected by knock down of clathrin and by the expression of dominant negative Eps15 and Dynamin 2 mutants, indicating the involvement of a clathrin-dependent pathway. Notably, PrPC co-immunoprecipitates with clathrin and remains associated with detergent-insoluble microdomains during internalization thus indicating that PrPC can enter the cell via multiple pathways and that rafts and clathrin cooperate in its internalization. Conclusions/Significance: These findings are of particular interest if we consider that the internalization route/s undertaken by PrPC can be crucial for the ability of different prion strains to infect and to replicate in different cell lines.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)