The yeast prion [PSI+] is a self-propagating amyloid of the translation termination factor, Sup35p. For known pathogenic prions, such as [PSI+], a single protein can form an array of different amyloid structures (prion variants) each stably inherited and with differing biological properties. The ribosome-associated chaperones, Ssb1/2p (Hsp70s), and RAC (Zuo1p (Hsp40) and Ssz1p (Hsp70)), enhance de novo protein folding by protecting nascent polypeptide chains from misfolding and maintain translational fidelity by involvement in translation termination. Ssb1/2p and RAC chaperones were previously found to inhibit [PSI+] prion generation. We find that most [PSI+] variants arising in the absence of each chaperone were cured by restoring normal levels of that protein. [PSI+] variants hypersensitive to Ssb1/2p have distinguishable biological properties from those hypersensitive to Zuo1p or Ssz1p. The elevated [PSI+] generation frequency in each deletion strain is not due to an altered [PIN+], another prion that primes [PSI+] generation. [PSI+] prion generation/propagation may be inhibited by Ssb1/2/RAC chaperones by ensuring proper folding of nascent Sup35p, thus preventing its joining amyloid fibers. Alternatively, the effect of RAC/Ssb mutations on translation termination and the absence of an effect on the [URE3] prion suggest an effect on the mature Sup35p such that it does not readily join amyloid filaments. Ssz1p is degraded in zuo1Δ [psi-] cells, but not if the cells carry any of several [PSI+] variants. Our results imply that prions arise more frequently than had been thought but the cell has evolved exquisite antiprion systems that rapidly eliminate most variants.
prion, antiprion system, [PSI+], Ssb, ribosome-associated complex