Proteins are macromolecules that must fold correctly to perform their functions in cells. Cells use several quality control systems to ensure proteins fold correctly. For example, chaperones are proteins that help to prevent other proteins from misfolding. Prions are a subset of misfolded proteins that are self-propagating and are infectious, thus transforming correctly folded proteins into their prion counterparts. Yeast are used as model organisms since they share many genes with humans but are easier to manipulate experimentally. Whereas human prions cause diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, yeast prions sometimes provide benefits to the cell. Previous studies in our lab have shown that when certain chaperones are functioning normally in yeast, prion formation is reduced. Whether the human homologs of these chaperones can similarly suppress prion formation is unknown.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology