Bank Vole Prion Protein As an Apparently Universal Substrate for RT-QuIC-Based Detection and Discrimination of Prion Strains.
ABSTRACT: 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.
Project description:Prions are amyloid-forming proteins that cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies through a process involving conversion from the normal cellular prion protein to the pathogenic misfolded conformation (PrPSc). This conversion has been used for in vitro assays including serial protein misfolding amplification and real-time quaking induced conversion (RT-QuIC). RT-QuIC can be used for the detection of prions in a variety of biological tissues from humans and animals. Extensive work has been done to demonstrate that RT-QuIC is a rapid, specific, and highly sensitive prion detection assay. RT-QuIC uses recombinant prion protein to detect minute amounts of PrPSc. RT-QuIC has been successfully used to detect PrPSc from different prion diseases with a variety of substrates including hamster, human, sheep, bank vole, bovine and chimeric forms of prion protein. However, recombinant bovine prion protein has not been used to detect transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME) or to differentiate types of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in samples from cattle. We evaluated whether PrPSc from TME and BSE infected cattle can be detected with RT-QuIC using recombinant bovine prion proteins, and optimized the reaction conditions to specifically detect cattle TME and to discriminate between classical and atypical BSE by conversion efficiency. We also found that substrate composed of the disease associated E211K mutant protein can be effective for the detection of TME in cattle and that wild type prion protein appears to be a practical substrate to discriminate between the different types of BSEs.
Project description:Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a highly contagious prion disease affecting captive and free-ranging cervid populations. CWD has been detected in United States, Canada, South Korea and, most recently, in Europe (Norway, Finland and Sweden). Animals with CWD release infectious prions in the environment through saliva, urine and feces sustaining disease spreading between cervids but also potentially to other non-cervids ruminants (e.g. sheep, goats and cattle). In the light of these considerations and due to CWD unknown zoonotic potential, it is of utmost importance to follow specific surveillance programs useful to minimize disease spreading and transmission. The European community has already in place specific surveillance measures, but the traditional diagnostic tests performed on nervous or lymphoid tissues lack sensitivity. We have optimized a Real-Time Quaking-Induced Conversion (RT-QuIC) assay for detecting CWD prions with high sensitivity and specificity to try to overcome this problem. In this work, we show that bank vole prion protein (PrP) is an excellent substrate for RT-QuIC reactions, enabling the detection of trace-amounts of CWD prions, regardless of prion strain and cervid species. Beside supporting the traditional diagnostic tests, this technology could be exploited for detecting prions in peripheral tissues from live animals, possibly even at preclinical stages of the disease.
Project description:It is widely known that prion strains can mutate in response to modification of the replication environment and we have recently reported that prion mutations can occur in vitro during amplification of vole-adapted prions by Protein Misfolding Cyclic Amplification on bank vole substrate (bvPMCA). Here we exploited the high efficiency of prion replication by bvPMCA to study the in vitro propagation of natural scrapie isolates. Although in vitro vole-adapted PrPSc conformers were usually similar to the sheep counterpart, we repeatedly isolated a PrPSc mutant exclusively when starting from extremely diluted seeds of a single sheep isolate. The mutant and faithful PrPSc conformers showed to be efficiently autocatalytic in vitro and were characterized by different PrP protease resistant cores, spanning aa ?155-231 and ?80-231 respectively, and by different conformational stabilities. The two conformers could thus be seen as different bona fide PrPSc types, putatively accounting for prion populations with different biological properties. Indeed, once inoculated in bank vole the faithful conformer was competent for in vivo replication while the mutant was unable to infect voles, de facto behaving like a defective prion mutant. Overall, our findings confirm that prions can adapt and evolve in the new replication environments and that the starting population size can affect their evolutionary landscape, at least in vitro. Furthermore, we report the first example of "authentic" defective prion mutant, composed of brain-derived PrPC and originating from a natural scrapie isolate. Our results clearly indicate that the defective mutant lacks of some structural characteristics, that presumably involve the central region ?90-155, critical for infectivity but not for in vitro replication. Finally, we propose a molecular mechanism able to account for the discordant in vitro and in vivo behavior, suggesting possible new paths for investigating the molecular bases of prion infectivity.
Project description:The bank vole is a rodent susceptible to different prion strains from humans and various animal species. We analyzed the transmission features of different prions in a panel of seven rodent species which showed various degrees of phylogenetic affinity and specific prion protein (PrP) sequence divergences in order to investigate the basis of vole susceptibility in comparison to other rodent models. At first, we found a differential susceptibility of bank and field voles compared to C57Bl/6 and wood mice. Voles showed high susceptibility to sheep scrapie but were resistant to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, whereas C57Bl/6 and wood mice displayed opposite features. Infection with mouse-adapted scrapie 139A was faster in voles than in C57Bl/6 and wood mice. Moreover, a glycoprofile change was observed in voles, which was reverted upon back passage to mice. All strains replicated much faster in voles than in mice after adapting to the new species. PrP sequence comparison indicated a correlation between the transmission patterns and amino acids at positions 154 and 169 (Y and S in mice, N and N in voles). This correlation was confirmed when inoculating three additional rodent species: gerbils, spiny mice and oldfield mice with sheep scrapie and 139A. These rodents were chosen because oldfield mice do have the 154N and 169N substitutions, whereas gerbil and spiny mice do not have them. Our results suggest that PrP residues 154 and 169 drive the susceptibility, molecular phenotype and replication rate of prion strains in rodents. This might have implications for the assessment of host range and molecular traceability of prion strains, as well as for the development of improved animal models for prion diseases.
Project description: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:Bank vole is a rodent species that shows differential susceptibility to the experimental transmission of different prion strains. In this work, the transmission features of a panel of diverse prions with distinct origins were assayed both in bank vole expressing methionine at codon 109 (Bv109M) and in transgenic mice expressing physiological levels of bank vole PrPC (the BvPrP-Tg407 mouse line). This work is the first systematic comparison of the transmission features of a collection of prion isolates, representing a panel of diverse prion strains, in a transgenic-mouse model and in its natural counterpart. The results showed very similar transmission properties in both the natural species and the transgenic-mouse model, demonstrating the key role of the PrP amino acid sequence in prion transmission susceptibility. However, differences in the PrPSc types propagated by Bv109M and BvPrP-Tg407 suggest that host factors other than PrPC modulate prion strain features.The differential susceptibility of bank voles to prion strains can be modeled in transgenic mice, suggesting that this selective susceptibility is controlled by the vole PrP sequence alone rather than by other species-specific factors. Differences in the phenotypes observed after prion transmissions in bank voles and in the transgenic mice suggest that host factors other than the PrPC sequence may affect the selection of the substrain replicating in the animal model.
Project description:Prion diseases are caused by the misfolding of a host-encoded glycoprotein, PrPC, into a pathogenic conformer, PrPSc. Infectious prions can exist as different strains, composed of unique conformations of PrPSc that generate strain-specific biological traits, including distinctive patterns of PrPSc accumulation throughout the brain. Prion strains from different animal species display different cofactor and PrPC glycoform preferences to propagate efficiently in vitro, but it is unknown whether these molecular preferences are specified by the amino acid sequence of PrPC substrate or by the conformation of PrPSc seed. To distinguish between these two possibilities, we used bank vole PrPC to propagate both hamster or mouse prions (which have distinct cofactor and glycosylation preferences) with a single, common substrate. We performed reconstituted sPMCA reactions using either (1) phospholipid or RNA cofactor molecules, or (2) di- or un-glycosylated bank vole PrPC substrate. We found that prion strains from either species are capable of propagating efficiently using bank vole PrPC substrates when reactions contained the same PrPC glycoform or cofactor molecule preferred by the PrPSc seed in its host species. Thus, we conclude that it is the conformation of the input PrPSc seed, not the amino acid sequence of the PrPC substrate, that primarily determines species-specific cofactor and glycosylation preferences. These results support the hypothesis that strain-specific patterns of prion neurotropism are generated by selection of differentially distributed cofactors molecules and/or PrPC glycoforms during prion replication.
Project description:Chronic wasting disease is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy of cervids. This fatal neurodegenerative disease is caused by misfolding of the cellular prion protein (PrPC) to pathogenic conformers (PrPSc), and the pathogenic forms accumulate in the brain and other tissues. Real-time Quaking Induced Conversion (RT-QuIC) can be used for the detection of prions and for prion strain discrimination in a variety of biological tissues from humans and animals. In this study, we evaluated how either PrPSc from cervids of different genotypes or PrPSc from different sources of CWD influence the fibril formation of recombinant bank vole (BV) or human prion proteins using RT-QuIC. We found that reaction mixtures seeded with PrPSc from different genotypes of white-tailed deer or reindeer brains have similar conversion efficiency with both substrates. Also, we observed similar results when assays were seeded with different sources of CWD. Thus, we conclude that the genotypes of all sources of CWD used in this study do not influence the level of conversion of PrPC to PrPSc.
Project description:Prions are unorthodox pathogens that cause fatal neurodegenerative diseases in humans and other mammals. Prion propagation occurs through the self-templating of the pathogenic conformer PrPSc, onto the cell-expressed conformer, PrPC. Here we study the conversion of PrPC to PrPSc using a recombinant mouse PrPSc conformer (mouse protein-only recPrPSc) as a unique tool that can convert bank vole but not mouse PrPC substrates in vitro. Thus, its templating ability is not dependent on sequence homology with the substrate. In the present study, we used chimeric bank vole/mouse PrPC substrates to systematically determine the domain that allows for conversion by Mo protein-only recPrPSc. Our results show that that either the presence of the bank vole amino acid residues E227 and S230 or the absence of the second N-linked glycan are sufficient to allow PrPC substrates to be converted by Mo protein-only recPrPSc and several native infectious prion strains. We propose that residues 227 and 230 and the second glycan are part of a C-terminal domain that acts as a linchpin for bank vole and mouse prion conversion.
Project description:Transmission of prions between species is limited by the "species barrier," which hampers a full characterization of human prion strains in the mouse model. We report that the efficiency of primary transmission of prions from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patients to a wild rodent species, the bank vole (Clethrionomys glareolus), is comparable to that reported in transgenic mice carrying human prion protein, in spite of a low prion protein-sequence homology between man and vole. Voles infected with sporadic and genetic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease isolates show strain-specific patterns of spongiform degeneration and pathological prion protein-deposition, and accumulate protease-resistant prion protein with biochemical properties similar to the human counterpart. Adaptation of genetic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease isolates to voles shows little or no evidence of a transmission barrier, in contrast to the striking barriers observed during transmission of mouse, hamster, and sheep prions to voles. Our results imply that in voles there is no clear relationship between the degree of homology of the prion protein of the donor and recipient species and susceptibility, consistent with the view that the prion strain gives a major contribution to the species barrier. The vole is therefore a valuable model to study human prion diversity and, being susceptible to a range of animal prions, represents a unique tool for comparing isolates from different species.