In the template-assistance model, normal prion protein (PrPC), the pathogenic cause of prion diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob in human, bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cow, and scrapie in sheep, converts to infectious prion (PrPSc) through an autocatalytic process triggered by a transient interaction between PrPC and PrPSc. Conventional studies suggest the S1-H1-S2 region in PrPC to be the template of S1-S2 beta-sheet in PrPSc, and the conformational conversion of PrPC into PrPSc may involve an unfolding of H1 in PrPC and its refolding into the beta-sheet in PrPSc. Here we conduct a series of simulation experiments to test the idea of transient interaction of the template-assistance model. We find that the integrity of H1 in PrPC is vulnerable to a transient interaction that alters the native dihedral angles at residue Asn(143), which connects the S1 flank to H1, but not to interactions that alter the internal structure of the S1 flank, nor to those that alter the relative orientation between H1 and the S2 flank.
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