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Rapid end-point quantitation of prion seeding activity with sensitivity comparable to bioassays.
ABSTRACT: A major problem for the effective diagnosis and management of prion diseases is the lack of rapid high-throughput assays to measure low levels of prions. Such measurements have typically required prolonged bioassays in animals. Highly sensitive, but generally non-quantitative, prion detection methods have been developed based on prions' ability to seed the conversion of normally soluble protease-sensitive forms of prion protein to protease-resistant and/or amyloid fibrillar forms. Here we describe an approach for estimating the relative amount of prions using a new prion seeding assay called real-time quaking induced conversion assay (RT-QuIC). The underlying reaction blends aspects of the previously described quaking-induced conversion (QuIC) and amyloid seeding assay (ASA) methods and involves prion-seeded conversion of the alpha helix-rich form of bacterially expressed recombinant PrP(C) to a beta sheet-rich amyloid fibrillar form. The RT-QuIC is as sensitive as the animal bioassay, but can be accomplished in 2 days or less. Analogous to end-point dilution animal bioassays, this approach involves testing of serial dilutions of samples and statistically estimating the seeding dose (SD) giving positive responses in 50% of replicate reactions (SD(50)). Brain tissue from 263K scrapie-affected hamsters gave SD(50) values of 10(11)-10(12)/g, making the RT-QuIC similar in sensitivity to end-point dilution bioassays. Analysis of bioassay-positive nasal lavages from hamsters affected with transmissible mink encephalopathy gave SD(50) values of 10(3.5)-10(5.7)/ml, showing that nasal cavities release substantial prion infectivity that can be rapidly detected. Cerebral spinal fluid from 263K scrapie-affected hamsters contained prion SD(50) values of 10(2.0)-10(2.9)/ml. RT-QuIC assay also discriminated deer chronic wasting disease and sheep scrapie brain samples from normal control samples. In principle, end-point dilution quantitation can be applied to many types of prion and amyloid seeding assays. End point dilution RT-QuIC provides a sensitive, rapid, quantitative, and high throughput assay of prion seeding activity.
Project description:A definitive pre-mortem diagnosis of prion disease depends on brain biopsy for prion detection currently and no validated alternative preclinical diagnostic tests have been reported to date. To determine the feasibility of using skin for preclinical diagnosis, here we report ultrasensitive serial protein misfolding cyclic amplification (sPMCA) and real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assays of skin samples from hamsters and humanized transgenic mice (Tg40h) at different time points after intracerebral inoculation with 263K and sCJDMM1 prions, respectively. sPMCA detects skin PrPSc as early as 2 weeks post inoculation (wpi) in hamsters and 4 wpi in Tg40h mice; RT-QuIC assay reveals earliest skin prion-seeding activity at 3 wpi in hamsters and 20 wpi in Tg40h mice. Unlike 263K-inoculated animals, mock-inoculated animals show detectable skin/brain PrPSc only after long cohabitation periods with scrapie-infected animals. Our study provides the proof-of-concept evidence that skin prions could be a biomarker for preclinical diagnosis of prion disease.
Project description:Real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) is a rapid, specific and highly sensitive prion seeding activity detection assay that uses recombinant prion protein (rPrPSen) to detect subinfectious levels of the abnormal isoforms of the prion protein (PrPSc). Although RT-QuIC has been successfully used to detect PrPSc in various tissues from humans and animals, including sheep, tissues from goats infected with classical scrapie have not yet been tested. Therefore, the aims of the present study were to (1) evaluate whether prion seeding activity could be detected in the brain tissues of goats with scrapie using RT-QuIC, (2) optimize reaction conditions to improve scrapie detection in goats, and (3) compare the performance of RT-QuIC for the detection of PrPSc with the more commonly used ELISA and Western blot assays. We further optimized RT-QuIC conditions for sensitive and specific detection of goat scrapie seeding activity in brain tissue from clinical animals. When used with 200? mM sodium chloride, both full-length sheep rPrPSen substrates (PrP genotypes A136R154Q171 and V136R154Q171) provided good discrimination between scrapie-infected and normal goat brain samples at 10(-?)3 dilution within 15 ?h. Our findings indicate that RT-QuIC was at least 10,000-fold more sensitive than ELISA and Western blot assays for the detection of scrapie seeding activity in goat brain samples. In addition to PRNP WT samples, positive RT-QuIC reactions were also observed with three PRNP polymorphic goat brain samples (G/S127, I/M142 and H/R143) tested. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that RT-QuIC sensitively detects prion seeding activity in classical scrapie-infected goat brain samples.
Project description:Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) is produced naturally by neutrophils and other cells to kill conventional microbes in vivo. Synthetic preparations containing HOCl can also be effective as microbial disinfectants. Here we have tested whether HOCl can also inactivate prions and other self-propagating protein amyloid seeds. Prions are deadly pathogens that are notoriously difficult to inactivate, and standard microbial disinfection protocols are often inadequate. Recommended treatments for prion decontamination include strongly basic (pH ?~12) sodium hypochlorite bleach, ?1 N sodium hydroxide, and/or prolonged autoclaving. These treatments are damaging and/or unsuitable for many clinical, agricultural and environmental applications. We have tested the anti-prion activity of a weakly acidic aqueous formulation of HOCl (BrioHOCl) that poses no apparent hazard to either users or many surfaces. For example, BrioHOCl can be applied directly to skin and mucous membranes and has been aerosolized to treat entire rooms without apparent deleterious effects. Here, we demonstrate that immersion in BrioHOCl can inactivate not only a range of target microbes, including spores of Bacillus subtilis, but also prions in tissue suspensions and on stainless steel. Real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assays showed that BrioHOCl treatments eliminated all detectable prion seeding activity of human Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, cervine chronic wasting disease, sheep scrapie and hamster scrapie; these findings indicated reductions of ?103- to 106-fold. Transgenic mouse bioassays showed that all detectable hamster-adapted scrapie infectivity in brain homogenates or on steel wires was eliminated, representing reductions of ?~105.75-fold and >104-fold, respectively. Inactivation of RT-QuIC seeding activity correlated with free chlorine concentration and higher order aggregation or destruction of proteins generally, including prion protein. BrioHOCl treatments had similar effects on amyloids composed of human ?-synuclein and a fragment of human tau. These results indicate that HOCl can block the self-propagating activity of prions and other amyloids.
Project description:Different transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE)-associated forms of prion protein (e.g. PrP(Sc)) can vary markedly in ultrastructure and biochemical characteristics, but each is propagated in the host. PrP(Sc) propagation involves conversion from its normal isoform, PrP(C), by a seeded or templated polymerization mechanism. Such a mechanism is also the basis of the RT-QuIC and eQuIC prion assays which use recombinant PrP (rPrP(Sen)) as a substrate. These ultrasensitive detection assays have been developed for TSE prions of several host species and sample tissues, but not for murine models which are central to TSE pathogenesis research. Here we have adapted RT-QuIC and eQuIC to various murine prions and evaluated how seeding activity depends on glycophosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchoring and the abundance of amyloid plaques and protease-resistant PrP(Sc) (PrP(Res)). Scrapie brain dilutions up to 10(-8) and 10(-13) were detected by RT-QuIC and eQuIC, respectively. Comparisons of scrapie-affected wild-type mice and transgenic mice expressing GPI anchorless PrP showed that, although similar concentrations of seeding activity accumulated in brain, the heavily amyloid-laden anchorless mouse tissue seeded more rapid reactions. Next we compared seeding activities in the brains of mice with similar infectivity titers, but widely divergent PrP(Res) levels. For this purpose we compared the 263K and 139A scrapie strains in transgenic mice expressing P101L PrP(C). Although the brains of 263K-affected mice had little immunoblot-detectable PrP(Res), RT-QuIC indicated that seeding activity was comparable to that associated with a high-PrP(Res) strain, 139A. Thus, in this comparison, RT-QuIC seeding activity correlated more closely with infectivity than with PrP(Res) levels. We also found that eQuIC, which incorporates a PrP(Sc) immunoprecipitation step, detected seeding activity in plasma from wild-type and anchorless PrP transgenic mice inoculated with 22L, 79A and/or RML scrapie strains. Overall, we conclude that these new mouse-adapted prion seeding assays detect diverse types of PrP(Sc).
Project description:Rapid and sensitive detection of prions is important in managing prion diseases. The real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assay for prion seeding activity has been applied to many prion diseases and provides for specific antemortem diagnostic testing. We evaluated RT-QuIC's long-term consistency and varied multiple reaction parameters. Repeated assays of a single scrapie sample using multiple plate readers and recombinant prion protein (rPrP(Sen)) substrates gave comparable results. N-terminal truncated hamster rPrP(Sen) (residues 90-231) hastened both prion-seeded and prion-independent reactions but maintained a clear kinetic distinction between the two. Raising temperatures or shaking speeds accelerated RT-QuIC reactions without compromising specificity. When applied to nasal brushings from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patients, higher temperatures accelerated RT-QuIC kinetics, and the use of hamster rPrP(Sen) (90-231) strengthened RT-QuIC responses. Elongation of shaking periods reduced scrapie-seeded reaction times, but continuous shaking promoted false-positive reactions. Furthermore, pH 7.4 provided for more rapid RT-QuIC reactions than more acidic pHs. Additionally, we show that small variations in the amount of sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) significantly impacted the assay. Finally, RT-QuIC performed in multiplate thermoshakers followed by fluorescence readings in separate plate readers enhanced assay throughput economically. Collectively, these results demonstrate improved speed, efficacy and practicality of RT-QuIC assays and highlight variables to be optimized for future applications.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Scrapie is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) that naturally occurs in sheep and goats. This fatal neurodegenerative disease results from misfolding of the normal cellular prion protein (PrPC) to a pathogenic prion protein form (PrPSc). This pathogenic form, PrPSc, accumulates in the brain and lymphoid tissues. The presence of PrPSc can be detected by an in vitro conversion assay known as real-time quaking induced conversion (RT-QuIC). RT-QuIC has been used to detect PrPSc in a variety of biological tissues from brains to fluids. While this technique is both rapid and sensitive, enhancing the detection of prions would be valuable in the diagnostic laboratories. RESULTS:In this study, we assessed whether PrPSc detection sensitivity of RT-QuIC can be increased by enriching PrPSc in scrapie tissue homogenates using commercially available aggregated protein binding ligands coated magnetic beads (PAD-Beads). Coupling of RT-QuIC to PAD-Beads based cleanup allowed detection of PrPSc rapidly and without dilution of scrapie sheep brain homogenates prior to RT-QuIC. The PAD-Beads sample pretreatment step prior to RT-QuIC is a useful enhancement in the diagnosis of TSEs.
Project description:To assess prospects for early diagnosis of prion disease based on prion seeding activity in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), we measured the activity over time in scrapie-infected hamsters by real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC). After intracerebral inoculation, activity appeared in CSF within 1 day and plateaued weeks before the onset of clinical signs. However, after intratongue inoculation, activity first appeared in CSF with the onset of clinical signs, well after higher-level accumulation of seeding activity in brain.
Project description:Prions are pathogens with an unusually high tolerance to inactivation and constitute a complex challenge to the re-processing of surgical instruments. On the other hand, however, they provide an informative paradigm which has been exploited successfully for the development of novel broad-range disinfectants simultaneously active also against bacteria, viruses and fungi. Here we report on the development of a methodological platform that further facilitates the use of scrapie prions as model pathogens for disinfection. We used specifically adapted serial protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) for the quantitative detection, on steel wires providing model carriers for decontamination, of 263K scrapie seeding activity converting normal protease-sensitive into abnormal protease-resistant prion protein. Reference steel wires carrying defined amounts of scrapie infectivity were used for assay calibration, while scrapie-contaminated test steel wires were subjected to fifteen different procedures for disinfection that yielded scrapie titre reductions of ?10(1)- to ?10(5.5)-fold. As confirmed by titration in hamsters the residual scrapie infectivity on test wires could be reliably deduced for all examined disinfection procedures, from our quantitative seeding activity assay. Furthermore, we found that scrapie seeding activity present in 263K hamster brain homogenate or multiplied by PMCA of scrapie-contaminated steel wires both triggered accumulation of protease-resistant prion protein and was further propagated in a novel cell assay for 263K scrapie prions, i.e., cerebral glial cell cultures from hamsters. The findings from our PMCA- and glial cell culture assays revealed scrapie seeding activity as a biochemically and biologically replicative principle in vitro, with the former being quantitatively linked to prion infectivity detected on steel wires in vivo. When combined, our in vitro assays provide an alternative to titrations of biological scrapie infectivity in animals that substantially facilitates the use of prions as potentially highly indicative test agents in the search for novel broad-range disinfectants.
Project description:Accidental transmission of prions during neurosurgery has been reported as a consequence of re-using contaminated surgical instruments. Several decontamination methods have been studied using the 263K-hamster prion; however, no studies have directly evaluated human prions. A newly developed in vitro amplification system, designated real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC), has allowed the activity of abnormal prion proteins to be assessed within a few days. RT-QuIC using human recombinant prion protein (PrP) showed high sensitivity for prions as the detection limit of our assay was estimated as 0.12 fg of active prions. We applied this method to detect human prion activity on stainless steel wire. When we put wires contaminated with human Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease brain tissue directly into the test tube, typical PrP-amyloid formation was observed within 48?hours, and we could detect the activity of prions at 50% seeding dose on the wire from 10(2.8) to 10(5.8) SD50. Using this method, we also confirmed that the seeding activities on the wire were removed following treatment with NaOH. As seeding activity closely correlated with the infectivity of prions using the bioassay, this wire-QuIC assay will be useful for the direct evaluation of decontamination methods for human prions.
Project description:Prions propagate as multiple strains in a wide variety of mammalian species. The detection of all such strains by a single ultrasensitive assay such as Real Time Quaking-induced Conversion (RT-QuIC) would facilitate prion disease diagnosis, surveillance and research. Previous studies have shown that bank voles, and transgenic mice expressing bank vole prion protein, are susceptible to most, if not all, types of prions. Here we show that bacterially expressed recombinant bank vole prion protein (residues 23-230) is an effective substrate for the sensitive RT-QuIC detection of all of the different prion types that we have tested so far--a total of 28 from humans, cattle, sheep, cervids and rodents, including several that have previously been undetectable by RT-QuIC or Protein Misfolding Cyclic Amplification. Furthermore, comparison of the relative abilities of different prions to seed positive RT-QuIC reactions with bank vole and not other recombinant prion proteins allowed discrimination of prion strains such as classical and atypical L-type bovine spongiform encephalopathy, classical and atypical Nor98 scrapie in sheep, and sporadic and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. Comparison of protease-resistant RT-QuIC conversion products also aided strain discrimination and suggested the existence of several distinct classes of prion templates among the many strains tested.