Human prion protein molecule

Human prion protein molecule

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Credit: JJP/LOOK AT SCIENCES/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Human prion protein molecule. Computer model showing the secondary structure of a human prion protein molecule. Prions are abnormal proteins that cause a group of fatal neurodegenerative diseases including BSE in cows and CJD in humans. Prions do not have a nucleic acid (RNA or DNA) genome for replication. Abnormal infectious prions directly change normal prions found in the brain to the abnormal form. The altered prion structure is extremely stable and accumulates as amyloid plaques that lead to neurodegeneration.

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