Friday, November 03, 2006

Taj has a comment about prions.....

You said that prions are infectious. But they have no DNA? How can they be infectious if they don't have genetic material?


Hallo Taj, that’s a very good question. Prior to detection of prions, all known pathogens (e.g. bacteria and viruses) contain nucleic acid to reproduce. Prions, in contrast, seem to be devoid of nucleic acid. Treatments, which would normally destroy nucleic acid, don’t inactivate them. In 1982, the infectious particle was discovered (purified) by Stanley Prusiner and termed “prion”, a combination of the terms “proteinaceous” and “infectious”. The prevalent theory proposes that prions are infectious misfolded proteins, which reproduce in the absence of nucleic acid by transmission of their abnormal folding to the normally folded proteins in the host.

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