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Lymphotoxin, but Not TNF, Is Required for Prion Invasion of Lymph Nodes

PLoS Pathogens
Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002867
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Immunology
  • Immune System
  • Lymphoid Organs
  • Microbiology
  • Pathogenesis
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Neuroscience
  • Neurobiology Of Disease And Regeneration
  • Medicine
  • Clinical Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Neurology
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Author Summary Prions are unique infectious agents thought to be composed entirely of an abnormal conformer of the endogenous prion protein. Prions cause a severe neurological disorder in humans and other animals known as prion disease. Though prion disease can arise spontaneously or from genetic mutations in the gene encoding the prion protein, many cases of prion disease arise due to peripheral exposure to the infectious agent. In these cases, prions must journey from the gastrointestinal tract and/or the bloodstream to the brain. Prions often colonize secondary lymphoid organs prior to invading the nervous system via neighboring peripheral nerves. Prion accumulation in follicular dendritic cells found in germinal centers of lymphoid organs is thought to be a crucial step in this process. However, prion colonization of lymph nodes, in contrast to spleen, does not depend on follicular dendritic cells, indicating that other mechanisms must exist. Here, we identify the signaling pathway required for follicular dendritic cell-independent prion colonization of lymph nodes, which also controls the differentiation of high endothelial venules, the primary entry point for lymphocytes into lymph nodes. Importantly, prions could be found within these structures, indicating that high endothelial venules are required for prion entry and accumulation in lymph nodes.

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