Prion protein (PrP) is a required factor for susceptibility to transmissible spongiform encephalopathy or prion diseases. In transgenic mice, expression of prion protein (PrP) from another species often confers susceptibility to prion disease from that donor species. For example, expression of deer or elk PrP in transgenic mice has induced susceptibility to chronic wasting disease (CWD), the prion disease of cervids. In the current experiments, transgenic mice expressing two naturally occurring allelic variants of deer PrP with either glycine (G) or serine (S) at residue 96 were found to differ in susceptibility to CWD infection. G96 mice were highly susceptible to infection, and disease appeared starting as early as 160 days postinfection. In contrast, S96 mice showed no evidence of disease or generation of disease-associated protease-resistant PrP (PrPres) over a 600-day period. At the time of clinical disease, G96 mice showed typical vacuolar pathology and deposition of PrPres in many brain regions, and in some individuals, extensive neuronal loss and apoptosis were noted in the hippocampus and cerebellum. Extraneural accumulation of PrPres was also noted in spleen and intestinal tissue of clinically ill G96 mice. These results demonstrate the importance of deer PrP polymorphisms in susceptibility to CWD infection. Furthermore, this deer PrP transgenic model is the first to demonstrate extraneural accumulation of PrPres in spleen and intestinal tissue and thus may prove useful in studies of CWD pathogenesis and transmission by oral or other natural routes of infection.
- white-tailed deer
- transmissible spongiform encephalopathies
- prp knockout mice
- mule deer