Analysis of Clusterin Glycoforms in the Urine of BSE-Infected Fleckvieh-Simmental Cows

Currently approved tests for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) monitoring in cattle are based on the detection of the disease-related isoform of the prion protein in brain tissue and consequently are only suitable for postmortem diagnosis. Previously, to meet the demand for an antemortem test based on a matrix that would permit easy access and repeated sampling, two-dimensional differential gel electrophoresis (2D-DIGE) was used to perform an unbiased screen of bovine urine. Data demonstrated the altered abundance of particular isoforms of the multifunctional glycoprotein clusterin in urine samples obtained from BSE-infected and age-matched Fleckvieh-Simmental cattle. Unfortunately, the use of particular isoforms of a relatively abundant urine protein such as clusterin for diagnosis faces many of the same challenges encountered in tests based on PrPd detection. In both instances the specific detection of the marker protein is complicated by the high background levels of proteins with identical amino acid sequences, but lacking the disease-specific posttranslational modifications or configuration. The goal of the current study was to define the distinguishing characteristics of the clusterin isoforms observed. Biochemical and mass spectrometry analyses in combination with the generation of bovine clusterin subunit-specific antibodies enabled us to demonstrate that it was beta-subunits of clusterin possessing N-linked glycans of complex structure that exhibited differential abundance in response to BSE infection. The charateristic highly glycosylated clusterin beta-subunit was detectable as early as 16 mo post infection (mpi) by one-dimensional (1D) Western blot analysis of urine obtained from BSE-infected cattle



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