Open Access

Prion protein and its role in signal transduction

Cellular & Molecular Biology LettersAn International Journal201318:85

https://doi.org/10.2478/s11658-013-0085-0

Received: 23 October 2012

Accepted: 18 February 2013

Published: 11 March 2013

Abstract

Prion diseases are a class of fatal neurodegenerative disorders that can be sporadic, genetic or iatrogenic. They are characterized by the unique nature of their etiologic agent: prions (PrPSc). A prion is an infectious protein with the ability to convert the host-encoded cellular prion protein (PrPC) into new prion molecules by acting as a template. Since Stanley B. Prusiner proposed the “protein-only” hypothesis for the first time, considerable effort has been put into defining the role played by PrPC in neurons. However, its physiological function remains unclear. This review summarizes the major findings that support the involvement of PrPC in signal transduction.

Key words

Prion PrPC PrPSc Src MAP kinases PKA PKC AKT Calcium Signaling

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