List of chromosomes » Chromosome 20

Prions: two-faced proteins


This discovery shattered a century-old scientific concept. Until then, microbes were thought to be the only biological entities able to cause an infection. While viruses, fungi and bacteria infect us by multiplying in our body, prions cause infection by changing shape.


For unknown reasons, prions become infectious by changing their shape and hence their humour, just like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Slide 2 – SF

Abnormal prion proteins contaminate an organism by forcing healthy prion proteins to take on the infectious shape. This is a novel way of causing infection. Indeed, abnormal prion proteins are neither viruses nor bacteria, yet they are able to spread from one organism to another, and from one species to another. It is a revolutionary discovery!

Slide 3 – SF