Prion seeding activities of mouse scrapie strains with divergent PrPSc protease sensitivities and amyloid plaque content using RT-QuIC and eQuIC.
ABSTRACT: 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:The development of in vitro amplification systems allows detecting femtomolar amounts of prion protein scrapie (PrP(Sc)) in human cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). We performed a CSF study to determine the effects of prion disease type, codon 129 genotype, PrP(Sc) type, and other disease-related factors on the real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) response. We analyzed times to 10,000 relative fluorescence units, areas under the curve and the signal maximum of RT-QuIC response as seeding parameters of interest. Interestingly, type of prion disease (sporadic vs. genetic) and the PRNP mutation (E200K vs. V210I and FFI), codon 129 genotype, and PrP(Sc) type affected RT-QuIC response. In genetic forms, type of mutation showed the strongest effect on the observed outcome variables. In sporadic CJD, MM1 patients displayed a higher RT-QuIC signal maximum compared to MV1 and VV1. Age and gender were not associated with RT-QuIC signal, but patients with a short disease course showed a higher seeding efficiency of the RT-QuIC response. This study demonstrated that PrP(Sc) characteristics in the CSF of human prion disease patients are associated with disease subtypes and rate of decline as defined by disease duration.
Project description:Previous studies have revealed that the infectious scrapie isoform of prion protein (PrP<sup>Sc</sup>) harbored in the skin tissue of patients or animals with prion diseases can be amplified and detected through the serial protein misfolding cyclic amplification (sPMCA) or real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assays. These findings suggest that skin PrP<sup>Sc</sup>-seeding activity may serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis of prion diseases; however, its utility as a biomarker for prion therapeutics remains largely unknown. Cellulose ethers (CEs, such as TC-5RW), widely used as food and pharmaceutical additives, have recently been shown to prolong the lifespan of prion-infected mice and hamsters. Here we report that in transgenic (Tg) mice expressing hamster cellular prion protein (PrP<sup>C</sup>) infected with the 263K prion, the prion-seeding activity becomes undetectable in the skin tissues of TC-5RW-treated Tg mice by both sPMCA and RT-QuIC assays, whereas such prion-seeding activity is readily detectable in the skin of untreated mice. Notably, TC-5RW exhibits an inhibitory effect on the in vitro amplification of PrP<sup>Sc</sup> in both skin and brain tissues by sPMCA and RT-QuIC. Moreover, we reveal that TC-5RW is able to directly decrease protease-resistant PrP<sup>Sc</sup> and inhibit the seeding activity of PrP<sup>Sc</sup> from chronic wasting disease and various human prion diseases. Our results suggest that the level of prion-seeding activity in the skin may serve as a useful biomarker for assessing the therapeutic efficacy of compounds in a clinical trial of prion diseases and that TC-5RW may have the potential for the prevention/treatment of human prion diseases.
Project description:Mammalian prions are thought to consist of misfolded aggregates (protease-resistant isoform of the prion protein [PrP(res)]) of the cellular prion protein (PrP(C)). Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) can be induced in animals inoculated with recombinant PrP (rPrP) amyloid fibrils lacking mammalian posttranslational modifications, but this induction is inefficient in hamsters or transgenic mice overexpressing glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored PrP(C). Here we show that TSE can be initiated by inoculation of misfolded rPrP into mice that express wild-type (wt) levels of PrP(C) and that synthetic prion strain propagation and selection can be affected by GPI anchoring of the host's PrP(C). To create prions de novo, we fibrillized mouse rPrP in the absence of molecular cofactors, generating fibrils with a PrP(res)-like protease-resistant banding profile. These fibrils induced the formation of PrP(res) deposits in transgenic mice coexpressing wt and GPI-anchorless PrP(C) (wt/GPI(-)) at a combined level comparable to that of PrP(C) expression in wt mice. Secondary passage into mice expressing wt, GPI(-), or wt plus GPI(-) PrP(C) induced TSE disease with novel clinical, histopathological, and biochemical phenotypes. Contrary to laboratory-adapted mouse scrapie strains, the synthetic prion agents exhibited a preference for conversion of GPI(-) PrP(C) and, in one case, caused disease only in GPI(-) mice. Our data show that novel TSE agents can be generated de novo solely from purified mouse rPrP after amplification in mice coexpressing normal levels of wt and anchorless PrP(C). These observations provide insight into the minimal elements required to create prions in vitro and suggest that the PrP(C) GPI anchor can modulate the propagation of synthetic TSE strains.
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:Meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) are permissive to chronic wasting disease (CWD) infection, but their susceptibility to other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) is poorly characterized. In this initial study, we intracerebrally challenged 6 meadow voles with 2 isolates of sheep scrapie. Three meadow voles acquired a TSE after the scrapie challenge and an extended incubation period. The glycoform profile of proteinase K-resistant prion protein (PrP(res)) in scrapie-sick voles remained similar to the sheep inocula, but differed from that of voles clinically affected by CWD. Vacuolization patterns and disease-associated prion protein (PrP(Sc)) deposition were generally similar in all scrapie-affected voles, except in the hippocampus, where PrP(Sc) staining varied markedly among the animals. Our results demonstrate that meadow voles can acquire a TSE after intracerebral scrapie challenge and that this species could therefore prove useful for characterizing scrapie isolates.
Project description:The conversion of the prion protein (PrP) into scrapie PrP (PrP(Sc)) is a central event in prion diseases. Several molecules work as cofactors in the conversion process, including glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). GAGs exhibit a paradoxical effect, as they convert PrP into protease-resistant PrP (PrP-res) but also exert protective activity. We compared the stability and aggregation propensity of PrP and the heparin-PrP complex through the application of different in vitro aggregation approaches, including real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC). Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy-associated forms from mouse and hamster brain homogenates were used to seed RT-QuIC-induced fibrillization. In our study, interaction between heparin and cellular PrP (PrP(C)) increased thermal PrP stability, leading to an 8-fold decrease in temperature-induced aggregation. The interaction of low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWHep) with the PrP N- or C-terminal domain affected not only the extent of PrP fibrillization but also its kinetics, lowering the reaction rate constant from 1.04 to 0.29 s(-1) and increasing the lag phase from 12 to 19 h in RT-QuIC experiments. Our findings explain the protective effect of heparin in different models of prion and prion-like neurodegenerative diseases and establish the groundwork for the development of therapeutic strategies based on GAGs.
Project description:Real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) allows the amplification of miniscule amounts of scrapie prion protein (PrP(Sc)). Recent studies applied the RT-QuIC methodology to cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for diagnosing human prion diseases. However, to date, there has not been a formal multi-centre assessment of the reproducibility, validity and stability of RT-QuIC in this context, an indispensable step for establishment as a diagnostic test in clinical practice. In the present study, we analysed CSF from 110 prion disease patients and 400 control patients using the RT-QuIC method under various conditions. In addition, "blinded" ring trials between different participating sites were performed to estimate reproducibility. Using the previously established cut-off of 10,000 relative fluorescence units (rfu), we obtained a sensitivity of 85% and a specificity of 99%. The multi-centre inter-laboratory reproducibility of RT-QuIC revealed a Fleiss' kappa value of 0.83 (95% CI: 0.40-1.00) indicating an almost perfect agreement. Moreover, we investigated the impact of short-term CSF storage at different temperatures, long-term storage, repeated freezing and thawing cycles and the contamination of CSF with blood on the RT-QuIC seeding response. Our data indicated that the PrP(Sc) seed in CSF is stable to any type of storage condition but sensitive to contaminations with blood (>1250 erythrocytes/μL), which results in a false negative RT-QuIC response. Fresh blood-contaminated samples (3 days) can be rescued by removal of erythrocytes. The present study underlines the reproducibility and high stability of RT-QuIC across various CSF storage conditions with a remarkable sensitivity and specificity, suggesting RT-QuIC as an innovative and robust diagnostic method.
Project description:In vitro amplification assays, such as real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) are used to detect aggregation activity of misfolded prion protein (PrP) in brain, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and urine samples from patients with a prion disease. We believe that the method also has a much broader application spectrum. In the present study, we applied RT-QuIC as a pre-screening test for substances that potentially inhibit the aggregation process of the cellular PrP (PrP(C)) to proteinase (PK)-resistant PrP(res). We chose doxycycline as the test substance as it has been tested successfully in animal models and proposed in clinical studies as a therapeutic for prion diseases. The RT-QuIC-reaction was seeded with brain tissue or CSF from sCJD patients and doxycycline was then added in different concentrations as well as at different time points. In both experiments, we observed a dose- and time-dependent inhibition of the RT-QuIC seeding response and a decrease of PK resistant PrP(res) when doxycycline was added. In contrast, ampicillin or sucrose had no effect on the RT-QuIC seeding response. Our study is the first to apply RT-QuIC as a pre-screening assay for compounds inhibiting the PrP aggregation in vitro and confirms that doxycycline is an efficient inhibitor of the PrP aggregation process in RT-QuIC analysis.
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 PrP<sup>Sc</sup> 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 PrP<sup>Sc</sup> 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:Mammalian prion diseases involve conversion of normal prion protein, PrP(C), to a pathological aggregated state (PrP(res)). The three-dimensional structure of PrP(res) is not known, but infrared (IR) spectroscopy has indicated high, strain-dependent ?-sheet content. PrP(res) molecules usually contain a glycophosphatidylinositol (GPI) anchor and large Asn-linked glycans, which can also vary with strain. Using IR spectroscopy, we tested the conformational effects of these post-translational modifications by comparing wild-type PrP(res) with GPI- and glycan-deficient PrP(res) produced in GPI-anchorless PrP transgenic mice. These analyses required the development of substantially improved purification protocols. Spectra of both types of PrP(res) revealed conformational differences between the 22L, ME7, and Chandler (RML) murine scrapie strains, most notably in bands attributed to ?-sheets. These PrP(res) spectra were also distinct from those of the hamster 263K scrapie strain. Spectra of wild-type and anchorless 22L PrP(res) were nearly indistinguishable. With ME7 PrP(res), modest differences between the wild-type and anchorless spectra were detected, notably an ?2 cm(-1) shift in an apparent ?-sheet band. Collectively, the data provide evidence that the glycans and anchor do not grossly affect the strain-specific secondary structures of PrP(res), at least relative to the differences observed between strains, but can subtly affect turns and certain ?-sheet components. Recently reported H-D exchange analyses of anchorless PrP(res) preparations strongly suggested the presence of strain-dependent, solvent-inaccessible ?-core structures throughout most of the C-terminal half of PrP(res) molecules, with no remaining ?-helix. Our IR data provide evidence that similar core structures also comprise wild-type PrP(res).