Prion disease is accelerated in mice lacking stress-induced heat shock protein 70 (HSP70)

Charles E. Mays, Enrique Armijo, Rodrigo Morales, Carlos Kramm, Andrea Flores, Anjana Tiwari, Jifeng Bian, Glenn C. Telling, Tej K. Pandita, Clayton R. Hunt, Claudio Soto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Prion diseases are a group of incurable neurodegenerative disorders that affect humans and animals via infection with proteinaceous particles called prions. Prions are composed of PrPSc, a misfolded version of the cellular prion protein (PrPC). During disease progression, PrPSc replicates by interacting with PrPC and inducing its conversion to PrPSc. As PrPSc accumulates, cellular stress mechanisms are activated to maintain cellular proteostasis, including increased protein chaperone levels. However, the exact roles of several of these chaperones remain unclear. Here, using various methodologies to monitor prion replication (i.e. protein misfolding cyclic amplification and cellular and animal infectivity bioassays), we studied the potential role of the molecular chaperone heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) in prion replication in vitro and in vivo. Our results indicated that pharmacological induction of the heat shock response in cells chronically infected with prions significantly decreased PrPSc accumulation. We also found that HSP70 alters prion replication in vitro. More importantly, prion infection of mice lacking the genes encoding stress-induced HSP70 exhibited accelerated prion disease progression compared with WT mice. In parallel with HSP70 being known to respond to endogenous and exogenous stressors such as heat, infection, toxicants, and ischemia, our results indicate that HSP70 may also play an important role in suppressing or delaying prion disease progression, opening opportunities for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13619-13628
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 13 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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