Research Papers

Using NMR spectroscopy to investigate the role played by copper in prion diseases

by Rawiah A Alsiary, Mawadda Alghrably, Abdelhamid Saoudi, Suliman Al-Ghamdi, Łukasz Jaremko, Mariusz Jaremko, Abdul-Hamid Emwas
Neurological Sciences Year: 2020 DOI: 10.1007/s10072-020-04321-9

Extra Information



Prion diseases are a group of rare neurodegenerative disorders that develop as a result of the conformational conversion of normal prion protein (PrPC) to the disease-associated isoform (PrPSc). The mechanism that actually causes disease remains unclear. However, the mechanism underlying the conformational transformation of prion protein is partially understood-in particular, there is strong evidence that copper ions play a significant functional role in prion proteins and in their conformational conversion. Various models of the interaction of copper ions with prion proteins have been proposed for the Cu (II)-binding, cell-surface glycoprotein known as prion protein (PrP). Changes in the concentration of copper ions in the brain have been associated with prion diseases and there is strong evidence that copper plays a significant functional role in the conformational conversion of PrP. Nevertheless, because copper ions have been shown to have both a positive and negative effect on prion disease onset, the role played by Cu (II) ions in these diseases remains a topic of debate. Because of the unique properties of paramagnetic Cu (II) ions in the magnetic field, their interactions with PrP can be tracked even at single atom resolution using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Various NMR approaches have been utilized to study the kinetic, thermodynamic, and structural properties of Cu (II)-PrP interactions. Here, we highlight the different models of copper interactions with PrP with particular focus on studies that use NMR spectroscopy to investigate the role played by copper ions in prion diseases.


Copper-binding site NMR Neurodegenerative disorder Paramagnetic ions Prion disease Prion protein Protein stability