Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies are fatal and infectious neurodegenerative diseases characterized by extensive neuronal apoptosis and the accumulation of an abnormally folded form of the cellular prion protein (PrP), denoted PrPSC. Compelling evidence suggests the involvement of several signaling pathways in prion pathogenesis, including proteasome dysfunction, alterations in the protein maturation pathways and the unfolded protein response. Recent reports indicate that endoplasmic reticulum stress due to the PrP misfolding may be a critical factor mediating neuronal dysfunction in prion diseases. These findings have applications for developing novel strategies for treatment and early diagnosis of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Keywords: Prion related disorders, apoptosis, PrPSC, proteasome, ER stress, glucose-regulated proteins, caspase-12, PrPSC-like, aggresomes
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