Proteins and Enzymes

ID #1750

Is it possible that the prions are just the thermodynamically favorable resonance structure of the proteins in the brain? How the normal proteins become prions when a prion is introduced?

Prions do not replicate. In order to replicate, you have to have a "template" to use as instructions, and the tools to make more of the same molecule. In the case of an isolated prion protein, to make more protein (replicate, in this case), you'd need to copy the existing protein. But as we'll see later in the semester, cells have no mechanism for making protein from a protein template. Instead, they have to make protein from an RNA molecule, but prions have no nucleic acid component!

This isn't to say that one misfolded prion protein can't lead to many misfolded prion proteins. Once one "bad" one induces a "good" one to become bad, now there are two bad ones, which then convert another 2. Now you've got 4, then 8, and so on.

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