A synergistic small-molecule combination directly eradicates diverse prion strain structures

Blake E. Roberts, Martin L. Duennwald, Huan Wang, Chan Chung, Nicholas P. Lopreiato, Elizabeth A. Sweeny, M. Noelle Knight, James Shorter

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83 Scopus citations


Safely eradicating prions, amyloids and preamyloid oligomers may ameliorate several fatal neurodegenerative disorders. Yet whether small-molecule drugs can directly antagonize the entire spectrum of distinct amyloid structures or 'strains' that underlie distinct disease states is unclear. Here, we investigated this issue using the yeast prion protein Sup35. We have established how epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) blocks synthetic Sup35 prionogenesis, eliminates preformed Sup35 prions and disrupts inter- and intramolecular prion contacts. Unexpectedly, these direct activities were strain selective, altered the repertoire of accessible infectious forms and facilitated emergence of a new prion strain that configured original, EGCG-resistant intermolecular contacts. In vivo, EGCG cured and prevented induction of susceptible, but not resistant strains, and elicited switching from susceptible to resistant forms. Importantly, 4,5-bis-(4-methoxyanilino)phthalimide directly antagonized EGCG-resistant prions and synergized with EGCG to eliminate diverse Sup35 prion strains. Thus, synergistic small-molecule combinations that directly eradicate complete strain repertoires likely hold considerable therapeutic potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)936-946
Number of pages11
JournalNature Chemical Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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