ALFRED PASIEKA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ALFRED PASIEKA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Prion protein. Computer artwork of part of a prion protein on a light micrograph of pyramidal nerve cells (neurones, black) from the brain. Prions destroy the brain, causing BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in cows and CJD (Creutzfeldt- Jakob disease) in humans. They are mutations of a normal cell protein (PrP). The rod-shaped colour- coded atoms are: hydrogen (light blue), nitrogen (dark blue), oxygen (red) and carbon (orange). Prions consist of alpha-helices (pink & orange) and beta-sheets (such as the two mauve areas on the strands at lower right). This is part of the proteins's rigid half. The other half (not seen) varies in shape. One shape may cause CJD and BSE.
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