Interaction between nucleic acid and recombinant murine prion protein, MoPrP C resulted in a time-dependent change in the nucleic acid morphology revealed by electron microscopy. After the addition of the protein to DNA, association of small number of nucleic acid molecules (nucleo-protein complex) was followed by aggregation of large number of them still retaining their initial linear morphology. With increase in the incubation time, ordered aggregation resulted in small condensed spherical globules. Subsequently, the formation of large condensed particles took place either by fusion of the already formed small globules or by accumulation of more nucleic acid molecules on them. The condensed nucleic acid structures observed here were different from other known morphologically altered nucleic acid structures induced by different cellular proteins. The condensed nucleic acid structures dissociated spontaneously. The formation of the prion protein-induced condensed nucleic acid structures resembled the human immunodeficiency virus 1 nucleocapsid protein NCp7-induced condensed ordered aggregates of nucleic acids. In the latter system, both the processes of condensation and dissociation of the nucleoprotein complex are believed to be responsible for the functional properties of the HIV-1 virus. Demonstration of functional activity of the prion protein-nucleic acid complex would be relevant for a role of nucleic acid in prion diseases.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 1, 2001
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