The [PIN(+)] prion, a self-propagating amyloid form of Rnq1p, increases the frequency with which the [PSI(+)] or [URE3] prions arise de novo. Like the prion domains of Sup35p and Ure2p, Rnq1p is rich in N and Q residues, but rnq1Delta strains have no known phenotype except for inability to propagate the [PIN(+)] prion. We used solid-state NMR methods to examine amyloid formed in vitro from recombinant Rnq1 prion domain (residues 153-405) labeled with Tyr-1-(13)C (14 residues), Leu-1-(13)C (7 residues), or Ala-3-(13)C (13 residues). The carbonyl chemical shifts indicate that most Tyr and Leu residues are in beta-sheet conformation. Experiments designed to measure the distance from each labeled residue to the next nearest labeled carbonyl showed that almost all Tyr and Leu carbonyl carbon atoms were approximately 0.5 nm from the next nearest Tyr and Leu residues, respectively. This result indicates that the Rnq1 prion domain forms amyloid consisting of parallel beta-strands that are either in register or are at most one amino acid out of register. Similar experiments with Ala-3-(13)C indicate that the beta-strands are indeed in-register. The parallel in-register structure, now demonstrated for each of the yeast prions, explains the faithful templating of prion strains, and suggests as well a mechanism for the rare hetero-priming that is [PIN(+)]'s defining characteristic.
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