Peroxymonosulfate Rapidly Inactivates the Disease-Associated Prion Protein

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Molecular and Environmental Toxicology Center, Department of Chemistry, §School of Pharmacy, and Department of Soil Science, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, United States
*Phone: (608) 263-4971; fax: (608) 265-2595; e-mail: [email protected]
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2016, 50, 13, 7095–7105
Publication Date (Web):June 1, 2016
Copyright © 2016 American Chemical Society
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Prions, the etiological agents in transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, exhibit remarkable resistance to most methods of inactivation that are effective against conventional pathogens. Prions are composed of pathogenic conformers of the prion protein (PrPTSE). Some prion diseases are transmitted, in part, through environmental routes. The recalcitrance of prions to inactivation may lead to a persistent reservoir of infectivity that contributes to the environmental maintenance of epizootics. At present, few methods exist to remediate prion-contaminated land surfaces. Here we conducted a proof-of-principle study to examine the ability of peroxymonosulfate to degrade PrPTSE. We find that peroxymonosulfate rapidly degrades PrPTSE from two species. Transition-metal-catalyzed decomposition of peroxymonosulfate to produce sulfate radicals appears to enhance degradation. We further demonstrate that exposure to peroxymonosulfate significantly reduced PrPC to PrPTSE converting ability as measured by protein misfolding cyclic amplification, used as a proxy for infectivity. Liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry revealed that exposure to peroxymonosulfate results in oxidative modifications to methionine and tryptophan residues. This study indicates that peroxymonosulfate may hold promise for decontamination of prion-contaminated surfaces.

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