Prions are infectious agents involved in neurodegenerative diseases, such as scrapie in sheep and goats, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cows and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans. These pathogens are characterized by unusual properties, and, in particular, by their strong resistance to common procedures of disinfection used against conventional microorganisms. A major component of highly infectious fractions is a proteinase K-resistant prion protein PrPsc (PrP-res), the normal host prion protein PrPc being sensitive to PK (PrP-sen). We used a biochemical approach to further characterize PrPsc protein in natural sheep scrapie. Western blot analyses using rabbit antiserum that recognized both normal and pathologic sheep prion proteins, were undertaken to study the biochemical behaviour of PrPsc extracted from brains of sheep naturally infected with scrapie after protease digestion and under denaturing conditions. Increasing concentrations of urea (1 – 7 M) or GdnSCN (0.25 – 3 M) and different pH from 2 to 11 were tested for their effects on protease resistance of PrPsc. Alkaline pH (pH 10) and high concentrations of urea ( M) and GdnSCN ( M) greatly decreased the protease resistance of the prion protein. Identical experiments carried out on three different sheep from the same flock gave similar results. The biochemical behaviour of PrPsc under denaturing conditions and in the presence of proteinase K could thus provide a biochemical means for further characterization of different natural scrapie isolates.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 1, 1997
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