Transmission of elk and deer prions to transgenic mice.
ABSTRACT: Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal prion disease in deer and elk. Unique among the prion diseases, it is transmitted among captive and free-ranging animals. To facilitate studies of the biology of CWD prions, we generated five lines of transgenic (Tg) mice expressing prion protein (PrP) from Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni), denoted Tg(ElkPrP), and two lines of Tg mice expressing PrP common to white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), denoted Tg(DePrP). None of the Tg(ElkPrP) or Tg(DePrP) mice exhibited spontaneous neurologic dysfunction at more than 600 days of age. Brain samples from CWD-positive elk, white-tailed deer, and mule deer produced disease in Tg(ElkPrP) mice between 180 and 200 days after inoculation and in Tg(DePrP) mice between 300 and 400 days. One of eight cervid brain inocula transmitted disease to Tg(MoPrP)4053 mice overexpressing wild-type mouse PrP-A in approximately 540 days. Neuropathologic analysis revealed abundant PrP amyloid plaques in the brains of ill mice. Brain homogenates from symptomatic Tg(ElkPrP) mice produced disease in 120 to 190 days in Tg(ElkPrP) mice. In contrast to the Tg(ElkPrP) and Tg(DePrP) mice, Tg mice overexpressing human, bovine, or ovine PrP did not develop prion disease after inoculation with CWD prions from among nine different isolates after >500 days. These findings suggest that CWD prions from elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer can be readily transmitted among these three cervid species.
Project description:Although the unifying hallmark of prion diseases is CNS neurodegeneration caused by conformational corruption of host prion protein (PrP) to its infective counterpart, contagious transmission of chronic wasting disease (CWD) results from shedding of prions produced at high titers in the periphery of diseased cervids. While deer and elk PrP primary structures are equivalent except at residue 226, which is glutamate in elk and glutamine in deer, the effect of this difference on CWD pathogenesis is largely unknown. Using a gene-targeting approach where the mouse PrP coding sequence was replaced with elk or deer PrP, we show that the resulting GtE226 and GtQ226 mice had distinct kinetics of disease onset, prion conformations, and distributions of prions in the brains of diseased mice following intracerebral CWD challenge. These findings indicate that amino acid differences at PrP residue 226 dictate the selection and propagation of divergent strains in deer and elk with CWD. Because prion strain properties largely dictate host-range potential, our findings suggest that prion strains from elk and deer pose distinct risks to sympatric species or humans exposed to CWD. GtE226 and GtQ226 mice were also highly susceptible to CWD prions following intraperitoneal and oral exposures, a characteristic that stood in stark contrast to previously produced transgenic models. Remarkably, disease transmission was effective when infected mice were cohoused with naïve cagemates. Our findings indicate that gene-targeted mice provide unprecedented opportunities to accurately investigate CWD peripheral pathogenesis, CWD strains, and mechanisms of horizontal CWD transmission.
Project description:We generated mice expressing cervid prion protein to produce a transgenic system simulating chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer and elk. While normal mice were resistant to CWD, these transgenic mice uniformly developed signs of neurological dysfunction approximately 230 days following intracerebral inoculation with four CWD isolates. Inoculated transgenic mice homozygous for the transgene array developed disease after approximately 160 days. The brains of sick transgenic mice exhibited widespread spongiform degeneration and contained abnormal prion protein and abundant amyloid plaques, many of which were florid plaques. Transmission studies indicated that the same prion strain caused CWD in the analyzed mule deer and elk. These mice provide a new and reliable tool for detecting CWD prions.
Project description:Chronic wasting disease (CWD) of deer and elk is a highly communicable neurodegenerative disorder caused by prions. Investigations of CWD are hampered by slow bioassays in transgenic (Tg) mice. Towards the development of Tg mice that will be more susceptible to CWD prions, we created a series of chimeric elk/mouse transgenes that encode the N terminus of elk PrP (ElkPrP) up to residue Y168 and the C terminus of mouse PrP (MoPrP) beyond residue 169 (mouse numbering), designated Elk3M(SNIVVK). Between codons 169 and 219, six residues distinguish ElkPrP from MoPrP: N169S, T173N, V183I, I202V, I214V and R219K. Using chimeric elk/mouse PrP constructs, we generated 12 Tg mouse lines and determined incubation times after intracerebral inoculation with the mouse-passaged RML scrapie or Elk1P CWD prions. Unexpectedly, one Tg mouse line expressing Elk3M(SNIVVK) exhibited incubation times of <70 days when inoculated with RML prions; a second line had incubation times of <90 days. In contrast, mice expressing full-length ElkPrP had incubation periods of >250 days for RML prions. Tg(Elk3M,SNIVVK) mice were less susceptible to CWD prions than Tg(ElkPrP) mice. Changing three C-terminal mouse residues (202, 214 and 219) to those of elk doubled the incubation time for mouse RML prions and rendered the mice resistant to Elk1P CWD prions. Mutating an additional two residues from mouse to elk at codons 169 and 173 increased the incubation times for mouse prions to >300 days, but made the mice susceptible to CWD prions. Our findings highlight the role of C-terminal residues in PrP that control the susceptibility and replication of prions.
Project description:Understanding the molecular parameters governing prion propagation is crucial for controlling these lethal, proteinaceous, and infectious neurodegenerative diseases. To explore the effects of prion protein (PrP) sequence and structural variations on intra- and interspecies transmission, we integrated studies in deer, a species naturally susceptible to chronic wasting disease (CWD), a burgeoning, contagious epidemic of uncertain origin and zoonotic potential, with structural and transgenic (Tg) mouse modeling and cell-free prion amplification. CWD properties were faithfully maintained in deer following passage through Tg mice expressing cognate PrP, and the influences of naturally occurring PrP polymorphisms on CWD susceptibility were accurately reproduced in Tg mice or cell-free systems. Although Tg mice also recapitulated susceptibility of deer to sheep prions, polymorphisms that provided protection against CWD had distinct and varied influences. Whereas substitutions at residues 95 and 96 in the unstructured region affected CWD propagation, their protective effects were overridden during replication of sheep prions in Tg mice and, in the case of residue 96, deer. The inhibitory effects on sheep prions of glutamate at residue 226 in elk PrP, compared with glutamine in deer PrP, and the protective effects of the phenylalanine for serine substitution at the adjacent residue 225, coincided with structural rearrangements in the globular domain affecting interaction between ?-helix 3 and the loop between ?2 and ?-helix 2. These structure-function analyses are consistent with previous structural investigations and confirm a role for plasticity of this tertiary structural epitope in the control of PrP conversion and strain propagation.
Project description:Chronic wasting disease (CWD), a prion disease of deer and elk, is highly prevalent in some regions of North America. The establishment of mouse-adapted CWD prions has proven difficult due to the strong species barrier between mice and deer. Here we report the efficient transmission of CWD to transgenic mice overexpressing murine PrP. All mice developed disease 500 +/- 62 days after intracerebral CWD challenge. The incubation period decreased to 228 +/- 103 days on secondary passage and to 162 +/- 6 days on tertiary passage. Mice developed very large, radially structured cerebral amyloid plaques similar to those of CWD-infected deer and elk. PrP(Sc) was detected in spleen, indicating that murine CWD was lymphotropic. PrP(Sc) glycoform profiles maintained a predominantly diglycosylated PrP pattern, as seen with CWD in deer and elk, across all passages. Therefore, all pathological, biochemical, and histological strain characteristics of CWD appear to persist upon repetitive serial passage through mice. These findings indicate that the salient strain-specific properties of CWD are encoded by agent-intrinsic components rather than by host factors.
Project description:Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal prion disease of North American deer and elk and poses an unclear risk for transmission to humans. Human exposure to CWD occurs through hunting activities and consumption of venison from prion-infected animals. Although the amino acid residues of the prion protein (PrP) that prevent or permit human CWD infection are unknown, NMR-based structural studies suggest that the ?2-?2 loop (residues 165-175) may impact species barriers. Here we sought to define PrP sequence determinants that affect CWD transmission to humans. We engineered transgenic mice that express human PrP with four amino acid substitutions that result in expression of PrP with a ?2-?2 loop (residues 165-175) that exactly matches that of elk PrP. Compared with transgenic mice expressing unaltered human PrP, mice expressing the human-elk chimeric PrP were highly susceptible to elk and deer CWD prions but were concurrently less susceptible to human Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease prions. A systematic in vitro survey of amino acid differences between humans and cervids identified two additional residues that impacted CWD conversion of human PrP. This work identifies amino acids that constitute a substantial structural barrier for CWD transmission to humans and helps illuminate the molecular requirements for cross-species prion transmission.
Project description:Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a transmissible, fatal prion disease of cervids and is largely confined to North America. The origin of CWD continues to pose a conundrum: does the disease arise spontaneously or result from some other naturally occurring reservoir? To address whether prions from sheep might be able to cause disease in cervids, we inoculated mice expressing the elk prion protein (PrP) transgene [Tg(ElkPrP) mice] with two scrapie prion isolates. The SSBP/1 scrapie isolate transmitted disease to Tg(ElkPrP) mice with a median incubation time of 270 days, but a second isolate failed to produce neurological dysfunction in these mice. Although prions from cattle with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) did not transmit to the Tg(ElkPrP) mice, they did transmit after being passaged through sheep. In Tg(ElkPrP) mice, the sheep-passaged BSE prions exhibited an incubation time of approximately 300 days. SSBP/1 prions produced abundant deposits of the disease-causing PrP isoform, denoted PrP(Sc), in the cerebellum and pons of Tg(ElkPrP) mice, whereas PrP(Sc) accumulation in Tg mice inoculated with sheep-passaged BSE prions was confined to the deep cerebellar nuclei, habenula and the brainstem. The susceptibility of 'cervidized' mice to 'ovinized' prions raises the question about why CWD has not been reported in other parts of the world where cervids and scrapie-infected sheep coexist.
Project description:Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a highly infectious prion disease of cervids. Accumulation of prions, the disease-specific structural conformers of the cellular prion protein (PrPC), in the central nervous system, is the key pathological event of the disorder. The analysis of cervid PrPC sequences revealed the existence of polymorphism at position 226, in which deer PrP contains glutamine (Q), whereas elk PrP contains glutamate (E). The effects of this polymorphism on CWD are still unknown. We determined the high-resolution nuclear magnetic resonance structure of the mule deer prion protein that was compared to previously published PrP structures of elk and white-tailed deer. We found that the polymorphism Q226E could influence the long-range intramolecular interactions and packing of the ?2-?2 loop and the C-terminus of the ?3 helix of cervid PrP structures. This solvent-accessible epitope is believed to be involved in prion conversion. Additional differences were observed at the beginning of the well-defined C-terminus domain, in the ?2-?3 region, and in its interactions with the ?1 helix. Here, we highlight the importance of the PrP structure in prion susceptibility and how single amino acid differences might influence the overall protein folding.
Project description:Scrapie of sheep and chronic wasting disease (CWD) of cervids are transmissible prion diseases. Milk and placenta have been identified as sources of scrapie prions but do not explain horizontal transmission. In contrast, CWD prions have been reported in saliva, urine and feces, which are thought to be responsible for horizontal transmission. While the titers of CWD prions have been measured in feces, levels in saliva or urine are unknown. Because sheep produce ~17 L/day of saliva, and scrapie prions are present in tongue and salivary glands of infected sheep, we asked if scrapie prions are shed in saliva. We inoculated transgenic (Tg) mice expressing ovine prion protein, Tg(OvPrP) mice, with saliva from seven Cheviot sheep with scrapie. Six of seven samples transmitted prions to Tg(OvPrP) mice with titers of -0.5 to 1.7 log ID?? U/ml. Similarly, inoculation of saliva samples from two mule deer with CWD transmitted prions to Tg(ElkPrP) mice with titers of -1.1 to -0.4 log ID?? U/ml. Assuming similar shedding kinetics for salivary prions as those for fecal prions of deer, we estimated the secreted salivary prion dose over a 10-mo period to be as high as 8.4 log ID?? units for sheep and 7.0 log ID?? units for deer. These estimates are similar to 7.9 log ID?? units of fecal CWD prions for deer. Because saliva is mostly swallowed, salivary prions may reinfect tissues of the gastrointestinal tract and contribute to fecal prion shedding. Salivary prions shed into the environment provide an additional mechanism for horizontal prion transmission.
Project description:Transmission of chronic wasting disease (CWD) between cervids is influenced by the primary structure of the host cellular prion protein (PrP(C)). In white-tailed deer, PRNP alleles encode the polymorphisms Q95 G96 (wild type [wt]), Q95 S96 (referred to as the S96 allele), and H95 G96 (referred to as the H95 allele), which differentially impact CWD progression. We hypothesize that the transmission of CWD prions between deer expressing different allotypes of PrP(C) modifies the contagious agent affecting disease spread. To evaluate the transmission properties of CWD prions derived experimentally from deer of four PRNP genotypes (wt/wt, S96/wt, H95/wt, or H95/S96), transgenic (tg) mice expressing the wt allele (tg33) or S96 allele (tg60) were challenged with these prion agents. Passage of deer CWD prions into tg33 mice resulted in 100% attack rates, with the CWD H95/S96 prions having significantly longer incubation periods. The disease signs and neuropathological and protease-resistant prion protein (PrP-res) profiles in infected tg33 mice were similar between groups, indicating that a prion strain (Wisc-1) common to all CWD inocula was amplified. In contrast, tg60 mice developed prion disease only when inoculated with the H95/wt and H95/S96 CWD allotypes. Serial passage in tg60 mice resulted in adaptation of a novel CWD strain (H95(+)) with distinct biological properties. Transmission of first-passage tg60CWD-H95(+) isolates into tg33 mice, however, elicited two prion disease presentations consistent with a mixture of strains associated with different PrP-res glycotypes. Our data indicate that H95-PRNP heterozygous deer accumulated two CWD strains whose emergence was dictated by the PrP(C) primary structure of the recipient host. These findings suggest that CWD transmission between cervids expressing distinct PrP(C) molecules results in the generation of novel CWD strains.CWD prions are contagious among wild and captive cervids in North America and in South Korea. We present data linking the amino acid variant Q95H in white-tailed deer cellular prion protein (PrP(C)) to the emergence of a novel CWD strain (H95(+)). We show that, upon infection, deer expressing H95-PrP(C) molecules accumulated a mixture of CWD strains that selectively propagated depending on the PRNP genotype of the host in which they were passaged. Our study also demonstrates that mice expressing the deer S96-PRNP allele, previously shown to be resistant to various cervid prions, are susceptible to H95(+) CWD prions. The potential for the generation of novel strains raises the possibility of an expanded host range for CWD.