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Propagation of ovine prions from “poor” transmitter scrapie isolates in ovine PrP transgenic mice

Experimental and Molecular Pathology
DOI: 10.1016/j.yexmp.2011.11.004
  • Prion Strains
  • Polymorphism
  • Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies
  • Conformational
  • Transgenic Mice
  • Immuno-Biochemical Assay
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Medicine


Abstract Ovine prion strains have typically been identified by their transmission properties, which include incubation time and lesion profile, in wild type mice. The existence of scrapie isolates that do not propagate in wild type mice, defined here as “poor” transmitters, are problematic for conventional prion strain typing studies as no incubation time or neuropathology can be recorded. This may arise because of the presence of an ovine prion strain within the original inoculum that does not normally cross the species barrier into wild type mice or the presence of a low dose of an infectious ovine prion strain that does. Here we have used tg59 and tg338 mouse lines, which are transgenic for ovine ARQ or VRQ PrP, respectively, to strain type “poor” transmitter ovine scrapie isolates. ARQ and VRQ homozygous “poor” transmitter scrapie isolates were successfully propagated in both ovine PrP transgenic mouse lines. We have used secondary passage incubation time, PrPSc immunohistochemistry and molecular profile, to show that different prion strains can be isolated from different “poor” transmitter samples during serial passage in ovine PrP transgenic mice. Our observations show that poor or inadequate transmissibility of some classical scrapie isolates in wild type mice is associated with unique ovine prion strains in these particular sheep scrapie samples. In addition, the analysis of the scrapie isolates used here revealed that the tg338 mouse line was more versatile and more robust at strain typing ovine prions than tg59 mice. These novel observations in ovine PrP transgenic mice highlight a new approach to ovine prion strain typing.

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