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Regulating the surface temperature on Mars using a prion switch


In 1982 Stanley B. Prusiner created the term “prion” (or proteinacius infectious particle) to name the exclusively proteic infectious agent responsible of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), a group of mammalian neurodegenerative disorders. According with the widely supported “protein-only” model, the prion mechanism of transmissibility arise from the ability of the prion form of the protein to promote the conformational change of the normal cellular form to the infectious prion forms (Prusiner, 1998).

Fungal prions

In 1994 Reed Wickner proposed the prion nature of Ure2, a protein involved in the nitrogen metabolism of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisae, to explain the unusual dominant and cytoplasmatic inheritance of the phenotype [URE3] [The names of fungal prions are placed within brackets to indicate that they are non-Mendelian genetic elements.] first described by Cox (1965). In later years a wide array of genetic and biochemical evidence have supported that the prionic behaviour is present in other proteins of the yeast such as Sup35, Rnq1 and Swi1 and in HET-s, a protein involved in the mechanism of genetic incompatibility between strains of Podospora anserina.


Prion switch




Experimental procedure