Main definitions of prion in English

: prion1prion2

prion1

noun

  • A small petrel of southern seas, having a wide bill fringed with comb-like plates for feeding on planktonic crustaceans.

    • ‘In addition to the wandering, we also were entranced by royal and shy albatrosses, as well as Cape and giant petrels, fairy prions and fluttering shearwaters.’
    • ‘The prions currently comprise six rather similar looking species of Pachyptila prion together with the Blue Petrel.’
    • ‘It is generally accepted that the Family Procellariidae can be split into four broad groupings; the fulmars (Fulmarus), the gadfly-petrels (Pterodroma), the prions (Pachyptila) and the shearwaters (Puffinus).’

Origin

Mid 19th century: modern Latin (former genus name), from Greek priōn a saw (referring to its sawlike bill).

Pronunciation:

prion

/ˈprʌɪən/

Main definitions of prion in English

: prion1prion2

prion2

noun

Microbiology
  • A protein particle that is believed to be the cause of brain diseases such as BSE, scrapie, and CJD. Prions are not visible microscopically, contain no nucleic acid, and are highly resistant to destruction.

    Compare with virino
    • ‘Twisted forms of brain proteins called prions spread the disease, making normal proteins misfold.’
    • ‘The disease is caused by a mysterious class of proteins called prions that destroy nervous system tissue in the brain, causing loss of motor control and eventually death.’
    • ‘The causative prions are resistant to steam sterilization, dry heat, ethylene oxide gas, and chemical disinfection with either formaldehyde or glutaraldehyde, as normally used in the health care environment.’
    • ‘The means of transmission is of particular concern because the protein nature of prions makes them extremely resistant to conventional means of disinfection and sterilization.’
    • ‘For many years after their discovery as the agents of some rare neurodegenerative diseases in mammals, such as scrapie in sheep and human Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and kuru, prions have remained a truly esoteric research topic.’

Origin

1980s: by rearrangement of elements from pro(teinaceous) in(fectious particle)..

Pronunciation:

prion

/ˈpriːɒn/