National Prion Clinic


Structure of prions

A major programme in the Unit focuses on the central problem in understanding prions; what is the change in shape that distinguishes normal prion protein, PrPC, from its rogue form, PrPSc, and how does it come about? The team, which was led by Tony Clarke until his untimely death in 2016, works mainly with the human prion protein itself - which is synthetically produced in the Unit in large quantities (using genetically engineered bacteria) in a specially-designed laboratory. A range of sophisticated equipment is used to study the structure, folding and dynamics of prion protein both in isolation and also with likely binding partners, in order to understand how it changes its shape.

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