Estimating the rate of prion aggregate amplification in yeast with a generation and structured population model

H. T. Banks, Kevin B. Flores, Christine R. Langlois, Tricia R. Serio, Suzanne S. Sindi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Prions are a special class of proteins capable of adopting multiple (misfolded) conformations, some of which have been associated with fatal diseases in mammals such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease. Prion diseases, like protein misfolding diseases in general, are caused by the formation and amplification of ordered aggregates of proteins called amyloids. While such diseases in mammals can take decades to form, yeast have a variety of prion phenotypes that occur over a few hours, making this system an ideal model for protein misfolding disease in general. Most experimental assays of colonies with yeast prions provide steady-state population observations which complicate the inference of biochemical parameters both by the inability to directly measure aggregate amplification and by obscuring heterogeneity between cells. We develop a mathematical and inverse problem formulation to determine the amplification rate with prion aggregates from single-cell measurements observed in propagon amplification experiments. We demonstrate the ability of our formulation to determine heterogeneous amplification rates on simulated and experimental data. Our results show that aggregate amplification rates for two prion variants are strongly bimodal, suggesting that the generational structure in the yeast population impacts the ability of prion aggregates to amplify.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-279
Number of pages23
JournalInverse Problems in Science and Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018


  • PDEs
  • Structured population model
  • aggregate data
  • inverse problem
  • prion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics


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