The prion diseases are transmissible neurodegenerative pathologies characterized by the accumulation of altered forms of the prion protein (PrP), termed PrP(Sc), in the brain. Previous studies have shown that a synthetic peptide homologous to residues 106-126 of PrP (PrP 106-126) maintains many characteristics of PrP(Sc), i.e., the ability to form amyloid fibrils and to induce apoptosis in neurons. We have investigated the intracellular mechanisms involved in the cellular degeneration induced by PrP 106-126, using the GH3 cells as a model of excitable cells. When assayed in serum-deprived conditions (48 hr), PrP 106-126 (50 μM) induced cell death time-dependently, and this process showed the characteristics of the apoptosis. This effect was specific because a peptide with a scrambled sequence of PrP 106-126 was not effective. Then we performed microfluorimetric analysis of single cells to monitor intracellular calcium concentrations and showed that PrP 106-126 caused a complete blockade of the increase in the cytosolic calcium levels induced by K+ (40 mM) depolarization. Conversely, the scrambled peptide was ineffective. The L- type voltage-sensitive calcium channel blocker nicardipine (1 μM) also induced apoptosis in GH3 cells, suggesting that the blockade of Ca2+ entry through this class of calcium channels may cause GH3 apoptotic cell death. We thus analyzed, by means of electrophysiological studies, whether Prp 106-126 modulate L-type calcium channels activity and demonstrated that the apoptotic effect of PrP 106-126 was due to a dose-dependent inactivation of the L-type calcium channels. These data demonstrate that the prion protein fragment 106- 126 induces a GH3 apoptotic cell death inducing a selective inhibition of the activity of the L-type voltage-sensitive calcium channels.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Journal of Neuroscience Research|
|Publication status||Published - Nov 1 1998|
- L-type voltage-sensitive calcium channels
- Prion protein
ASJC Scopus subject areas