The infectious template-mediated protein conversion is a unique mechanism for the onset of rare and fatal neurodegenerative disorders known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or prion diseases, which affect humans and other animal species. However, emerging studies are now demonstrating prion-like mechanisms of self-propagation of protein misfolding in a number of common, non-infectious neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. It has been proposed that distinct and unrelated proteins (beta-amyloid, tau, α-synuclein, TAR DNA-binding protein 43 and huntingtin, etc.) associated with common neurodegenerative disorders can seed conversion and spread via cellto-cell transfer, sustaining the transmission of neurotoxic agents along a stereotypic route, sharing features at the heart of the intrinsic nature of prions. Here we review the most recent development on both the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of prion-like neurodegenerative diseases as well as innovative methods and strategies for potential therapeutic applications.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Dr. Xiaobo Mao (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) for constructive comments.
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- Alzheimer's disease
- Parkinson's disease
- TAR DNA-binding protein 43
- amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- frontotemporal dementia