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1.  Differentiation of Prions from L-type BSE versus Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2012;18(12):2028-2031.
We compared transmission characteristics for prions from L-type bovine spongiform encephalopathy and MM2-cortical sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the Syrian golden hamster and an ovine prion protein–transgenic mouse line and isolated distinct prion strains. Our findings suggest the absence of a causal relationship between these diseases, but further investigation is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3557863  PMID: 23171544
prions; Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; sporadic; sCJD; bovine spongiform encephalopathy; BSE; L-type; strain; bioassay; prions and related diseases; lemur; hamster; human
2.  Histopathological Studies of “CH1641-Like” Scrapie Sources Versus Classical Scrapie and BSE Transmitted to Ovine Transgenic Mice (TgOvPrP4) 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e22105.
The possibility of the agent causing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) infecting small ruminants is of serious concern for human health. Among scrapie cases, the CH1641 source in particular appears to have certain biochemical properties similar to the BSE strain. In France, several natural scrapie cases were identified as “CH1641-like” natural scrapie isolates in sheep and goats. The Tg(OvPrP4) mouse line expressing the ovine prion protein is a sensitive model for studying and identifying strains of agents responsible for scrapie and BSE. This model is also very useful when studying specific scrapie source CH1641, known to be not transmissible to wild-type mice despite the similarity of some of its biochemical properties to those of the BSE strain. As it is important to be able to fully distinguish CH1641 from BSE, we herein report the histopathological data from CH1641 scrapie transmission experiments compared to specific cases of “CH1641-like” natural scrapie isolates in sheep, murine scrapie strains and BSE. In addition to the conventional vacuolar lesion profile approach and PrPd brain mappings, an innovative differential PET-blot analysis was introduced to classify the different strains of agent and revealed the first direct concordance between ways of grouping strains on the basis of PrPd biochemical characteristics.
PMCID: PMC3135617  PMID: 21765939
3.  Emergence of Classical BSE Strain Properties during Serial Passages of H-BSE in Wild-Type Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e15839.
Two distinct forms of atypical spongiform encephalopathies (H-BSE and L-BSE) have recently been identified in cattle. Transmission studies in several wild-type or transgenic mouse models showed that these forms were associated with two distinct major strains of infectious agents, which also differed from the unique strain that had been isolated from cases of classical BSE during the food-borne epizootic disease.
Methodology/Principal Findings
H-BSE was monitored during three serial passages in C57BL/6 mice. On second passage, most of the inoculated mice showed molecular features of the abnormal prion protein (PrPd) and brain lesions similar to those observed at first passage, but clearly distinct from those of classical BSE in this mouse model. These features were similarly maintained during a third passage. However, on second passage, some of the mice exhibited distinctly different molecular and lesion characteristics, reminiscent of classical BSE in C57Bl/6 mice. These similarities were confirmed on third passage from such mice, for which the same survival time was also observed as with classical BSE adapted to C57Bl/6 mice. Lymphotropism was rarely detected in mice with H-BSE features. In contrast, PrPd was detectable, on third passage, in the spleens of most mice exhibiting classical BSE features, the pattern being indistinguishable from that found in C57Bl/6 mice infected with classical BSE.
Our data demonstrate the emergence of a prion strain with features similar to classical BSE during serial passages of H-BSE in wild-type mice. Such findings might help to explain the origin of the classical BSE epizootic disease, which could have originated from a putatively sporadic form of BSE.
PMCID: PMC3021503  PMID: 21264286
4.  Is the presence of abnormal prion protein in the renal glomeruli of feline species presenting with FSE authentic? 
In a recent paper written by Hilbe et al (BMC vet res, 2009), the nature and specificity of the prion protein deposition in the kidney of feline species affected with feline spongiform encephalopathy (FSE) were clearly considered doubtful. This article was brought to our attention because we published several years ago an immunodetection of abnormal prion protein in the kidney of a cheetah affected with FSE. At this time we were convinced of its specificity but without having all the possibilities to demonstrate it. As previously published by another group, the presence of abnormal prion protein in some renal glomeruli in domestic cats affected with FSE is indeed generally considered as doubtful mainly because of low intensity detected in this organ and because control kidneys from safe animals present also a weak prion immunolabelling. Here we come back on these studies and thought it would be helpful to relay our last data to the readers of BMC Vet res for future reference on this subject.
Here we come back on our material as it is possible to study and demonstrate the specificity of prion immunodetection using the PET-Blot method (Paraffin Embedded Tissue - Blot). It is admitted that this method allows detecting the Proteinase K (PK) resistant form of the abnormal prion protein (PrPres) without any confusion with unspecific immunoreaction. We re-analysed the kidney tissue versus adrenal gland and brain samples from the same cheetah affected with TSE using this PET-Blot method. The PET-Blot analysis revealed specific PrPres detection within the brain, adrenal gland and some glomeruli of the kidney, with a complete identicalness compared to our previous detection using immunohistochemistry. In conclusion, these new data enable us to confirm with assurance the presence of specific abnormal prion protein in the adrenal gland and in the kidney of the cheetah affected with FSE. It also emphasizes the usefulness for the re-examination of any available tissue blocks with the PET-Blot method as a sensitive complementary tool in case of doubtful PrP IHC results.
PMCID: PMC2923130  PMID: 20684771
5.  Prions of Ruminants Show Distinct Splenotropisms in an Ovine Transgenic Mouse Model 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10310.
Transmissible agents involved in prion diseases differ in their capacities to target different regions of the central nervous system and lymphoid tissues, which are also host-dependent.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Protease-resistant prion protein (PrPres) was analysed by Western blot in the spleen of transgenic mice (TgOvPrP4) that express the ovine prion protein under the control of the neuron-specific enolase promoter, after infection by intra-cerebral route with a variety of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) from cattle and small ruminants. Splenic PrPres was consistently detected in classical BSE and in most natural scrapie sources, the electrophoretic pattern showing similar features to that of cerebral PrPres. However splenic PrPres was not detected in L-type BSE and TME-in-cattle, or in the CH1641 experimental scrapie isolate, indicating that some TSE strains showed reduced splenotropism in the ovine transgenic mice. In contrast with CH1641, PrPres was also consistently detected in the spleen of mice infected with six natural “CH1641-like” scrapie isolates, but then showed clearly different molecular features from those identified in the brains (unglycosylated PrPres at ∼18 kDa with removal of the 12B2 epitope) of ovine transgenic mice or of sheep. These features included different cleavage of the main PrPres cleavage product (unglycosylated PrPres at ∼19 kDa with preservation of the 12B2 epitope) and absence of the additional C-terminally cleaved PrPres product (unglycosylated form at ∼14 kDa) that was detected in the brain.
Studies in a transgenic mouse model expressing the sheep prion protein revealed different capacities of ruminant prions to propagate in the spleen. They showed unexpected features in “CH1641-like” ovine scrapie suggesting that such isolates contain mixed conformers with distinct capacities to propagate in the brain or lymphoid tissues of these mice.
PMCID: PMC2859945  PMID: 20436680
6.  Transmissibility of Atypical Scrapie in Ovine Transgenic Mice: Major Effects of Host Prion Protein Expression and Donor Prion Genotype 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7300.
Atypical scrapie or Nor98 has been identified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) that is clearly distinguishable from classical scrapie and BSE, notably regarding the biochemical features of the protease-resistant prion protein PrPres and the genetic factors involved in susceptibility to the disease. In this study we transmitted the disease from a series of 12 French atypical scrapie isolates in a transgenic mouse model (TgOvPrP4) overexpressing in the brain ∼0.25, 1.5 or 6× the levels of the PrPARQ ovine prion protein under the control of the neuron-specific enolase promoter. We used an approach based on serum PrPc measurements that appeared to reflect the different PrPc expression levels in the central nervous system. We found that transmission of atypical scrapie, much more than in classical scrapie or BSE, was strongly influenced by the PrPc expression levels of TgOvPrP4 inoculated mice. Whereas TgOvPrP4 mice overexpressing ∼6× the normal PrPc level died after a survival periods of 400 days, those with ∼1.5× the normal PrPc level died at around 700 days. The transmission of atypical scrapie in TgOvPrP4 mouse line was also strongly influenced by the prnp genotypes of the animal source of atypical scrapie. Isolates carrying the AF141RQ or AHQ alleles, associated with increased disease susceptibility in the natural host, showed a higher transmissibility in TgOvPrP4 mice. The biochemical analysis of PrPres in TgOvPrP4 mouse brains showed a fully conserved pattern, compared to that in the natural host, with three distinct PrPres products. Our results throw light on the transmission features of atypical scrapie and suggest that the risk of transmission is intrinsically lower than that of classical scrapie or BSE, especially in relation to the expression level of the prion protein.
PMCID: PMC2752806  PMID: 19806224
7.  Possible Case of Maternal Transmission of Feline Spongiform Encephalopathy in a Captive Cheetah 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e6929.
Feline spongiform encephalopathy (FSE) is considered to be related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and has been reported in domestic cats as well as in captive wild cats including cheetahs, first in the United Kingdom (UK) and then in other European countries. In France, several cases were described in cheetahs either imported from UK or born in France. Here we report details of two other FSE cases in captive cheetah including a 2nd case of FSE in a cheetah born in France, most likely due to maternal transmission. Complete prion protein immunohistochemical study on both brains and peripheral organs showed the close likeness between the two cases. In addition, transmission studies to the TgOvPrP4 mouse line were also performed, for comparison with the transmission of cattle BSE. The TgOvPrP4 mouse brains infected with cattle BSE and cheetah FSE revealed similar vacuolar lesion profiles, PrPd brain mapping with occurrence of typical florid plaques. Collectively, these data indicate that they harbor the same strain of agent as the cattle BSE agent. This new observation may have some impact on our knowledge of vertical transmission of BSE agent-linked TSEs such as in housecat FSE, or vCJD.
PMCID: PMC2732902  PMID: 19738899
8.  A C-Terminal Protease-Resistant Prion Fragment Distinguishes Ovine “CH1641-Like” Scrapie from Bovine Classical and L-Type BSE in Ovine Transgenic Mice 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(8):e1000137.
The protease-resistant prion protein (PrPres) of a few natural scrapie isolates identified in sheep, reminiscent of the experimental isolate CH1641 derived from a British natural scrapie case, showed partial molecular similarities to ovine bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Recent discovery of an atypical form of BSE in cattle, L-type BSE or BASE, suggests that also this form of BSE might have been transmitted to sheep. We studied by Western blot the molecular features of PrPres in four “CH1641-like” natural scrapie isolates after transmission in an ovine transgenic model (TgOvPrP4), to see if “CH1641-like” isolates might be linked to L-type BSE. We found less diglycosylated PrPres than in classical BSE, but similar glycoform proportions and apparent molecular masses of the usual PrPres form (PrPres #1) to L-type BSE. However, the “CH1641-like” isolates differed from both L-type and classical BSE by an abundant, C-terminally cleaved PrPres product (PrPres #2) specifically recognised by a C-terminal antibody (SAF84). Differential immunoprecipitation of PrPres #1 and PrPres #2 resulted in enrichment in PrPres #2, and demonstrated the presence of mono- and diglycosylated PrPres products. PrPres #2 could not be obtained from several experimental scrapie sources (SSBP1, 79A, Chandler, C506M3) in TgOvPrP4 mice, but was identified in the 87V scrapie strain and, in lower and variable proportions, in 5 of 5 natural scrapie isolates with different molecular features to CH1641. PrPres #2 identification provides an additional method for the molecular discrimination of prion strains, and demonstrates differences between “CH1641-like” ovine scrapie and bovine L-type BSE transmitted in an ovine transgenic mouse model.
Author Summary
The origin of the transmissible agent involved in the food-borne epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) remains a mystery. It has recently been proposed that this could have been the result of the recycling of an atypical, more probably sporadic, form of BSE (called bovine amyloidotic spongiform encephalopathy, or L-type BSE) in an intermediate host, such as sheep. In this study we analyzed the molecular features of the disease-associated protease-resistant prion protein (PrPres) found in the brain of transgenic mice overexpressing the ovine prion protein after experimental infection with prions from bovine classical and L-type BSEs or from ovine scrapie. Scrapie cases included rare “CH1641-like” isolates, which share some PrPres molecular features with classical BSE and L-type BSE. Scrapie isolates induced in transgenic mouse brains the production of a C-terminally cleaved form of PrPres, which was particularly abundant from “CH1641-like” cases. In contrast, this C-terminal prion protein product was undetectable in ovine transgenic mice infected with bovine prions from both classical and L-type BSE. These findings add a novel approach for the discrimination of prions that may help to understand their possible changes during cross-species transmissions.
PMCID: PMC2516186  PMID: 18769714
9.  H-Type Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy 
Prion  2007;1(1):61-68.
We previously reported that some cattle affected by bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) showed distinct molecular features of the protease-resistant prion protein (PrPres) in Western blot, with a 1–2 kDa higher apparent molecular mass of the unglycosylated PrPres associated with labelling by antibodies against the 86–107 region of the bovine PrP protein (H-type BSE). By Western blot analyses of PrPres, we now showed that the essential features initially described in cattle were observed with a panel of different antibodies and were maintained after transmission of the disease in C57Bl/6 mice. In addition, antibodies against the C-terminal region of PrP revealed a second, more C-terminally cleaved, form of PrPres (PrPres #2), which, in unglycosylated form, migrated as a ≈ 14 kDa fragment. Furthermore, a PrPres fragment of ≈7 kDa, which was not labelled by C-terminus-specific antibodies and was thus presumed to be a product of cleavage at both N- and C-terminal sides of PrP protein, was also detected. Both PrPres #2 and ≈7 kDa PrPres were detected in cattle and in C57Bl/6 infected mice. These complex molecular features are reminiscent of findings reported in human prion diseases. This raises questions regarding the respective origins and pathogenic mechanisms in prion diseases of animals and humans.
PMCID: PMC2633710  PMID: 19164888
prion; BSE; Creutzfeldt-Jakob; Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker; Western blot; amyloid
10.  Phenotypic Similarity of Transmissible Mink Encephalopathy in Cattle and L-type Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in a Mouse Model 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2007;13(12):1887-1894.
L-type BSE is a more likely candidate for the origin of TME than typical BSE.
Transmissible mink encepholapathy (TME) is a foodborne transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) of ranch-raised mink; infection with a ruminant TSE has been proposed as the cause, but the precise origin of TME is unknown. To compare the phenotypes of each TSE, bovine-passaged TME isolate and 3 distinct natural bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) agents (typical BSE, H-type BSE, and L-type BSE) were inoculated into an ovine transgenic mouse line (TgOvPrP4). Transgenic mice were susceptible to infection with bovine-passaged TME, typical BSE, and L-type BSE but not to H-type BSE. Based on survival periods, brain lesions profiles, disease-associated prion protein brain distribution, and biochemical properties of protease-resistant prion protein, typical BSE had a distint phenotype in ovine transgenic mice compared to L-type BSE and bovine TME. The similar phenotypic properties of L-type BSE and bovine TME in TgOvPrP4 mice suggest that L-type BSE is a much more likely candidate for the origin of TME than is typical BSE.
PMCID: PMC2876762  PMID: 18258040
prion; BSE; BASE; L-type; TME; mink; scrapie; research
11.  Isolation from Cattle of a Prion Strain Distinct from That Causing Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy 
PLoS Pathogens  2006;2(10):e112.
To date, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and its human counterpart, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, have been associated with a single prion strain. This strain is characterised by a unique and remarkably stable biochemical profile of abnormal protease-resistant prion protein (PrPres) isolated from brains of affected animals or humans. However, alternate PrPres signatures in cattle have recently been discovered through large-scale screening. To test whether these also represent separate prion strains, we inoculated French cattle isolates characterised by a PrPres of higher apparent molecular mass—called H-type—into transgenic mice expressing bovine or ovine PrP. All mice developed neurological symptoms and succumbed to these isolates, showing that these represent a novel strain of infectious prions. Importantly, this agent exhibited strain-specific features clearly distinct from that of BSE agent inoculated to the same mice, which were retained on further passage. Moreover, it also differed from all sheep scrapie isolates passaged so far in ovine PrP-expressing mice. Our findings therefore raise the possibility that either various prion strains may exist in cattle, or that the BSE agent has undergone divergent evolution in some animals.
Prions are unconventional agents of proteic nature that are formed of abnormal conformations of the host-encoded prion protein (PrP). They cause fatal neurodegenerative diseases in both animals and humans, and can be transmitted between species as exemplified in humans by the emergence of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease following the epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the United Kingdom. Since diagnosis of prion infection is only possible once the central nervous system has been invaded, brains of slaughtered or fallen cattle are routinely screened in Europe to protect the consumers from BSE. This has unexpectedly led to the discovery of unprecedented PrP conformations that were distinct from the single one associated so far with BSE or BSE-related diseases. To precisely determine their etiology, the authors have studied the transmissibility of these new conformations, termed H-type, to transgenic mice expressing either bovine or ovine PrP. They show that these cases are highly pathogenic for these mice. The authors also demonstrate that they are not directly related to the agent involved in the BSE epidemic, supporting the view for isolation of a new prion strain from cattle, whose prevalence and associated zoonotic risk should be carefully monitored in the future.
PMCID: PMC1617128  PMID: 17054396
12.  Transmission of New Bovine Prion to Mice 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2006;12(7):1125-1128.
We previously reported that cattle were affected by a prion disorder that differed from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) by showing distinct molecular features of disease-associated protease-resistant prion protein (PrPres). We show that intracerebral injection of such isolates into C57BL/6 mice produces a disease with preservation of PrPres molecular features distinct from BSE.
PMCID: PMC3291063  PMID: 16836832
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy; prion; cattle; dispatch
13.  Molecular Analysis of the Protease-Resistant Prion Protein in Scrapie and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Transmitted to Ovine Transgenic and Wild-Type Mice 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(12):6243-6251.
The existence of different strains of infectious agents involved in scrapie, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) of sheep and goats, remains poorly explained. These strains can, however, be differentiated by characteristics of the disease in mice and also by the molecular features of the protease-resistant prion protein (PrPres) that accumulates into the infected tissues. For further analysis, we first transmitted the disease from brain samples of TSE-infected sheep to ovine transgenic [Tg(OvPrP4)] and to wild-type (C57BL/6) mice. We show that, as in sheep, molecular differences of PrPres detected by Western blotting can differentiate, in both ovine transgenic and wild-type mice, infection by the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) agent from most scrapie sources. Similarities of an experimental scrapie isolate (CH1641) with BSE were also likewise found following transmission in ovine transgenic mice. Secondly, we transmitted the disease to ovine transgenic mice by inoculation of brain samples of wild-type mice infected with different experimental scrapie strains (C506M3, 87V, 79A, and Chandler) or with BSE. Features of these strains in ovine transgenic mice were reminiscent of those previously described for wild-type mice, by both ratios and by molecular masses of the different PrPres glycoforms. Moreover, these studies revealed the diversity of scrapie strains and their differences with BSE according to labeling by a monoclonal antibody (P4). These data, in an experimental model expressing the prion protein of the host of natural scrapie, further suggest a genuine diversity of TSE infectious agents and emphasize its linkage to the molecular features of the abnormal prion protein.
PMCID: PMC416514  PMID: 15163717
14.  Comparative Molecular Analysis of the Abnormal Prion Protein in Field Scrapie Cases and Experimental Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in Sheep by Use of Western Blotting and Immunohistochemical Methods 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(7):3654-3662.
Since the appearance of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and its linkage with the human variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the possible spread of this agent to sheep flocks has been of concern as a potential new source of contamination. Molecular analysis of the protease cleavage of the abnormal prion protein (PrP), by Western blotting (PrPres) or by immunohistochemical methods (PrPd), has shown some potential to distinguish BSE and scrapie in sheep. Using a newly developed enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, we identified 18 infected sheep in which PrPres showed an increased sensitivity to proteinase K digestion. When analyzed by Western blotting, two of them showed a low molecular mass of unglycosylated PrPres as found in BSE-infected sheep, in contrast to other naturally infected sheep. A decrease of the labeling by P4 monoclonal antibody, which recognizes an epitope close to the protease cleavage site, was also found by Western blotting in the former two samples, but this was less marked than in BSE-infected sheep. These two samples, and all of the other natural scrapie cases studied, were clearly distinguishable from those from sheep inoculated with the BSE agent from either French or British cattle by immunohistochemical analysis of PrPd labeling in the brain and lymphoid tissues. Final characterization of the strain involved in these samples will require analysis of the features of the disease following infection of mice, but our data already emphasize the need to use the different available methods to define the molecular properties of abnormal PrP and its possible similarities with the BSE agent.
PMCID: PMC371064  PMID: 15016886
15.  Efficient Transmission of Two Different Sheep Scrapie Isolates in Transgenic Mice Expressing the Ovine PrP Gene 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(11):5328-5334.
We produced transgenic mice expressing the sheep prion protein to obtain a sensitive model for sheep spongiform encephalopathies (scrapie). The complete open reading frame, with alanine, arginine, and glutamine at susceptibility codons 136, 154, and 171, respectively, was inserted downstream from the neuron-specific enolase promoter. A mouse line, Tg(OvPrP4), devoid of the murine PrP gene, was obtained by crossing with PrP knockout mice. Tg(OvPrP4) mice were shown to selectively express sheep PrP in their brains, as demonstrated in mRNA and protein analysis. We showed that these mice were susceptible to infection by sheep scrapie following intracerebral inoculation with two natural sheep scrapie isolates, as demonstrated not only by the occurrence of neurological signs but also by the presence of the spongiform changes and abnormal prion protein accumulation in their brains. Mean times to death of 238 and 290 days were observed with these isolates, but the clinical course of the disease was strikingly different in the two cases. One isolate led to a very early onset of neurological signs which could last for prolonged periods before death. Independently of the incubation periods, some of the mice inoculated with this isolate showed low or undetectable levels of PrPsc, as detected by both Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. The development of experimental scrapie in these mice following inoculation of the scrapie infectious agent further confirms that neuronal expression of the PrP open reading frame alone is sufficient to mediate susceptibility to spongiform encephalopathies. More importantly, these mice provide a new and promising tool for studying the infectious agents in sheep spongiform encephalopathies.
PMCID: PMC114937  PMID: 11333913

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