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Strain Typing of Classical Scrapie and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) by Using Ovine PrP (ARQ/ARQ) Overexpressing Transgenic Mice

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE), caused by abnormal prion protein (PrPSc), affect many species. The most classical scrapie isolates harbor mixtures of strains in different proportions. While the characterization of isolates has evolved from using wild-type mice to transgenic mice, no standardization is established yet. Here, we investigated the incubation period, lesion profile and PrPSc profile induced by well-defined sheep scrapie isolates, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and ovine BSE after intracerebral inoculation into two lines of ovine PrP (both ARQ/ARQ) overexpressing transgenic mice (Tgshp IX and Tgshp XI). All isolates were transmitted to both mouse models with an attack rate of almost 100%, but genotype-dependent differences became obvious between the ARQ and VRQ isolates. Surprisingly, BSE induced a much longer incubation period in Tgshp XI compared to Tgshp IX. In contrast to the histopathological lesion profiles, the immunohistochemical PrPSc profiles revealed discriminating patterns in certain brain regions in both models with clear differentiation of both BSE isolates from scrapie. These data provide the basis for the use of Tgshp IX and XI mice in the characterization of TSE isolates. Furthermore, the results enable a deeper appreciation of TSE strain diversity using ovine PrP overexpressing transgenic mice as a biological prion strain typing approach.



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