The ZIP-prion connection.


PubMedID: 22575750

Ehsani S, Mehrabian M, Pocanschi CL, Schmitt-Ulms G. The ZIP-prion connection. Prion. 2012;6(4):317-21.
The evolutionary origins of vertebrate prion genes had remained elusive until recently when multiple lines of evidence converged to the proposition that members of the prion gene family represent an ancient branch of a larger family of ZIP metal ion transporters. (1) A follow-up investigation which explored the mechanism of evolution in more detail led to the surprising conclusion that the emergence of the prion founder gene likely involved the reverse transcription of a spliced transcript of a LIV-1 ZIP predecessor gene. (2) The objective of this perspective is to discuss the possible significance of this reunion of ZIP and prion gene subfamilies for understanding the biology of the prion protein in health and disease. While a recent review article broadly introduced this area of research, (3) the emphasis here is to comment on some of the more pertinent concepts, experimental paradigms, ongoing developments and challenges.