any of a group of tiny infectious agents composed mainly or entirely of protein: though lacking in demonstrable nucleic acid, prions are capable of self-replication and are thought to be the cause of various degenerative diseases of the nervous systems of vertebrates, as scrapie and kuru
Origin of prionpr(oteinaceous) + i(nfectious) + -on: coined by S. B. Prusiner (b. 1942), United States neurologist
A protein particle that is the agent of infection in a variety of neurodegenerative diseases, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and scrapie. Prions are the only known infectious agents that do not contain DNA or RNA. They derive from a normal body protein that becomes irreversibly misfolded, and they proliferate in the body, possibly by acting as a template for further protein misfolding.
Origin of prionAlteration of pro(teinaceous) in(fectious particle)
From Prion (former genus name), from Ancient Greek Ï€ÏÎ¯Ï‰Î½ (priÅn, “saw").