Author(s): Thorne L, Terry LA
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Abstract Scrapie is a fatal, naturally transmissible, neurodegenerative prion disease that affects sheep and goats and is characterized by the accumulation of a misfolded protein, PrPSc, converted from host-encoded PrPc, in the central nervous system of affected animals. Highly efficient in vitro conversion of host PrPc to PrPSc has been achieved in models of scrapie and in natural prion diseases by protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA). Here, we demonstrate amplification, by serial PMCA, of PrPSc from individual sources of scrapie-infected sheep. Efficiency of amplification was affected by the pairing of the source of PrPSc with the control brain substrate of different genotypes of PrP. In line with previous studies, efficiency of amplification was greatly enhanced with the addition of a synthetic polyanion, polyadenylic acid (PolyA), facilitating rapid detection of low levels of PrPSc from body fluids such as blood. To this end PrPSc was amplified, in a 3 day PMCA assay, from blood leukocyte preparations from VRQ/VRQ scrapie-affected sheep at clinical end point. While PolyA-assisted PMCA resulted in spontaneous conversion of PrPc, we were able to distinguish blood samples from unaffected and affected sheep under controlled conditions. This study demonstrates that highly efficient amplification of PrPSc can be achieved for ovine scrapie from both brain and blood from naturally infected sheep and shows potential applications for improvements in current diagnostics and pre-mortem testing.
This article was published in J Gen Virol
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense