Environmental sources of contagious prion proteins
Prabhu K Das, Bibhuti P Barik
Prions are cellular proteins with neuroprotective functions. These are found in many tissues but are highly expressed in central nervous system. Sometimes these proteins are misfolded after translation resulting in neurodegenerative diseases. These disorders are observed in a number of species including humans. In prion disorders the misfolded proteins assemble at the synapse terminals resulting in synaptic loss. This may turn fatal for any organism. Contagious forms of these proteins enter the environment through the excreta, blood or other secretion of infected organisms. These proteins can thrive in the environment for several years without any change in their tendency of infection. These can transmit through soil and water. These proteins become more infectious upon binding with the soil minerals. The inter-specific infection capability makes these proteins more harmful. People who consume red meat may get infected with prion proteins. This is a mini review highlighting environmental sources of the contagious prion proteins.