Double trouble

2019-03-07 02:09:14

THE accumulation of an abnormal form of the protein PrP is thought to be behind diseases such as BSE and CJD. But no one knows what healthy PrP does, as some strains of mice in which the PrP gene has been deleted appear normal. Now it seems this is because PrP has a backup (Journal of Molecular Biology, vol 292, p 797). David Westaway of the University of Toronto and his colleagues have found a gene called doppel, which codes for a similar protein to PrP. Its production soars in mice with no PrP genes, seeming to compensate for the lack of PrP in some cases. In others, it kills key brain cells,