Familial human prion diseases associated with prion protein mutations Y226X and G131V are transmissible to transgenic mice expressing human prion protein.
ABSTRACT: Human familial prion diseases are associated with mutations at 34 different prion protein (PrP) amino acid residues. However, it is unclear whether infectious prions are found in all cases. Mutant PrP itself may be neurotoxic, or alternatively, PrP mutation might predispose to spontaneous formation of infectious PrP isoforms. Previous reports demonstrated transmission to animal models by human brain tissue expressing 7 different PrP mutations, but 3 other mutations were not transmissible. In the present work, we tested transmission using brain homogenates from patients expressing 3 untested PrP mutants: G131V, Y226X, and Q227X. Human brain homogenates were injected intracerebrally into tg66 transgenic mice overexpressing human PrP. Mice were followed for nearly 800 days.From 593 to 762 dpi, 4 of 8 mice injected with Y226X brain had PrPSc detectable in brain by immunostaining, immunoblot, and PrP amyloid seeding activity assayed by RT-QuIC. From 531 to 784 dpi, 11 of 11 G131V-injected mice had PrPSc deposition in brain, but none were positive by immunoblot or RT-QuIC assay. In contrast, from 529 to 798 dpi, no tg66 mice injected with Q227X brain had PrPSc or PrP amyloid seeding activity detectable by these methods. Y226X is the only one of 4 known PrP truncations associated with familial disease which has been shown to be transmissible. This transmission of prion infectivity from a patient expressing truncated human PrP may have implications for the spread and possible transmission of other aggregated truncated proteins in prion-like diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and tauopathies.
Project description:Prion diseases are infectious neurodegenerative disorders of humans and animals caused by misfolded forms of the cellular prion protein PrPC. Prions cause disease by converting PrPC into aggregation-prone PrPSc. Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is the most contagious prion disease with substantial lateral transmission, affecting free-ranging and farmed cervids. Although the PrP primary structure is highly conserved among cervids, the disease phenotype can be modulated by species-specific polymorphisms in the prion protein gene. How the resulting amino-acid substitutions impact PrPC and PrPSc structure and propagation is poorly understood. We investigated the effects of the cervid 116A>G substitution, located in the most conserved PrP domain, on PrPC structure and conversion and on 116AG-prion conformation and infectivity. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed structural de-stabilization of 116G-PrP, which enhanced its in vitro conversion efficiency when used as recombinant PrP substrate in real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC). We demonstrate that 116AG-prions are conformationally less stable, show lower activity as a seed in RT-QuIC and exhibit reduced infectivity in vitro and in vivo. Infectivity of 116AG-prions was significantly enhanced upon secondary passage in mice, yet conformational features were retained. These findings indicate that structurally de-stabilized PrPC is readily convertible by cervid prions of different genetic background and results in a prion conformation adaptable to cervid wild-type PrP. Conformation is an important criterion when assessing transmission barrier, and conformational variants can target a different host range. Therefore, a thorough analysis of CWD isolates and re-assessment of species-barriers is important in order to fully exclude a zoonotic potential of CWD.
Project description:BACKGROUND: PrPSc, the only known constituent of prions, the infectious agents causing prion diseases, can be detected by real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC). However, there is no efficient method to quantify the amount of PrPSc by RT-QuIC. RESULTS: Here we introduce quantitative RT-QuIC (qRT-QuIC) to quantify with high accuracy minute amounts of PrPSc in the brain and various peripheral tissues at levels far below detection by in vivo transmission. PrPSc is relatively resistant to treatment with proteinase K (PK). However, as there can also be a fraction of pathological PrP that is digested by PK, we use the term PrP27-30 to denote to the amount of PrPSc that can be detected by immunoblot after PK treatment. qRT-QuIC is based upon the quantitative correlation between the seeded amount of PrP27-30 and the lag time to the start of the conversion reaction detected by RT-QuIC. By seeding known amounts of PrP27-30 quantified by immunoblot into qRT-QuIC a standard calibration curve can be obtained. Based on this calibration curve, seeded undetermined amounts of PrP27-30 can be directly calculated. qRT-QuIC allowed to quantify PrP27-30 concentrations at extremely low levels as low as 10-15.5 g PrP27-30, which corresponds to 0.001 LD50 units obtained by in vivo i.c. transmission studies. We find that PrP27-30 concentration increases steadily in the brain after inoculation and can be detected at various time points during the incubation period in peripheral organs (spleen, heart, muscle, liver, kidney) in two experimental scrapie strains (RML, ME7) in the mouse. CONCLUSIONS: We suggest that an automatic quantitative system to measure disease progression as well as prion contamination of organs, blood and food product is feasible. Moreover, the concept of qRT-QuIC should be applicable to measure other disease-associated proteins rich in ?-pleated structures (amyloid) that bind ThT and that show seeded aggregation.
Project description:Both sporadic variably protease-sensitive prionopathy (VPSPr) and familial Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease linked to the prion protein (PrP) V180I mutation (fCJDV180I) have been found to share a unique pathological prion protein (PrPSc) that lacks the protease-resistant PrPSc glycosylated at residue 181 because two of four PrP glycoforms are apparently not converted into the PrPSc from their cellular PrP (PrPC). To investigate the seeding activity of these unique PrPSc molecules, we conducted in vitro prion conversion experiments using serial protein misfolding cyclic amplification (sPMCA) and real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) assays with different PrPC substrates. We observed that the seeding of PrPSc from VPSPr or fCJDV180I in the sPMCA reaction containing normal human or humanized transgenic (Tg) mouse brain homogenates generated PrPSc molecules that unexpectedly exhibited a dominant diglycosylated PrP isoform along with PrP monoglycosylated at residue 181. The efficiency of PrPSc amplification was significantly higher in non-CJDMM than in non-CJDVV human brain homogenate, whereas it was higher in normal TgVV than in TgMM mouse brain homogenate. PrPC from the mixture of normal TgMM and Tg mouse brain expressing PrPV180I mutation (Tg180) but not TgV180I alone was converted into PrPSc by seeding with the VPSPr or fCJDV180I. The RT-QuIC seeding activity of PrPSc from VPSPr and fCJDV180I was significantly lower than that of sCJD. Our results suggest that the formation of glycoform-selective prions may be associated with an unidentified factor in the affected brain and the glycoform-deficiency of PrPSc does not affect the glycoforms of in vitro newly amplified PrPSc.
Project description:Conformational conversion of the cellular prion protein, PrPC, into the abnormally folded isoform, PrPSc, is a key pathogenic event in prion diseases. However, the exact conversion mechanism remains largely unknown. Transgenic mice expressing PrP with a deletion of the central residues 91-106 were generated in the absence of endogenous PrPC, designated Tg(PrP?91-106)/Prnp0/0 mice and intracerebrally inoculated with various prions. Tg(PrP?91-106)/Prnp0/0 mice were resistant to RML, 22L and FK-1 prions, neither producing PrPSc?91-106 or prions in the brain nor developing disease after inoculation. However, they remained marginally susceptible to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) prions, developing disease after elongated incubation times and accumulating PrPSc?91-106 and prions in the brain after inoculation with BSE prions. Recombinant PrP?91-104 converted into PrPSc?91-104 after incubation with BSE-PrPSc-prions but not with RML- and 22L-PrPSc-prions, in a protein misfolding cyclic amplification assay. However, digitonin and heparin stimulated the conversion of PrP?91-104 into PrPSc?91-104 even after incubation with RML- and 22L-PrPSc-prions. These results suggest that residues 91-106 or 91-104 of PrPC are crucially involved in prion pathogenesis in a strain-dependent manner and may play a similar role to digitonin and heparin in the conversion of PrPC into PrPSc.
Project description:Mammalian prion structures and replication mechanisms are poorly understood. Most synthetic recombinant prion protein (rPrP) amyloids prepared without cofactors are non-infectious or much less infectious than bona fide tissue-derived PrPSc. This effect has been associated with differences in folding of the aggregates, manifested in part by reduced solvent exclusion and protease-resistance in rPrP amyloids, especially within residues ~90-160. Substitution of 4 lysines within residues 101-110 of rPrP (central lysine cluster) with alanines (K4A) or asparagines (K4N) allows formation of aggregates with extended proteinase K (PK) resistant cores reminiscent of PrPSc, particularly when seeded with PrPSc. Here we have compared the infectivity of rPrP aggregates made with K4N, K4A or wild-type (WT) rPrP, after seeding with scrapie brain homogenate (ScBH) or normal brain homogenate (NBH). None of these preparations caused clinical disease on first passage into rodents. However, the ScBH-seeded fibrils (only) led to a subclinical pathogenesis as indicated by increases in prion seeding activity, neuropathology, and abnormal PrP in the brain. Seeding activities usually accumulated to much higher levels in animals inoculated with ScBH-seeded fibrils made with the K4N, rather than WT, rPrP molecules. Brain homogenates from subclinical animals induced clinical disease on second passage into "hamsterized" Tg7 mice, with shorter incubation times in animals inoculated with ScBH-seeded K4N rPrP fibrils. On second passage from animals inoculated with ScBH-seeded WT fibrils, we detected an additional PK resistant PrP fragment that was similar to that of bona fide PrPSc. Together these data indicate that both the central lysine cluster and scrapie seeding of rPrP aggregates influence the induction of PrP misfolding, neuropathology and clinical manifestations upon passage in vivo. We confirm that some rPrP aggregates can initiate further aggregation without typical pathogenesis in vivo. We also provide evidence that there is little, if any, biohazard associated with routine RT-QuIC assays.
Project description:Prion diseases are thought to result from the conformational change of the normal cellular prion protein to a pathogenic protease-resistant isoform. However, brain extracts not containing the protease-resistant isoform of the prion protein can be infectious following interspecies transmission. The 'protein-only' hypothesis of pathogenesis is extended to provide possible explanations which could be interpreted in terms of a different infectious agent. It is proposed that normal cellular protein (PrPC) may be transformed into a form (PrP*) that is conformationally distinct from the host-specific abnormal isoform (PrPSc). In infection from a heterologous donor, the dimeric forms of heterologous PrPSc, which may catalyse the formation of host PrP* from PrPC, host PrP* and host PrPSc are all considered to be capable of catalysing, to some extent, the conversion of PrPC into PrPSc. However, depending on the species involved, PrP* may, or may not, be pathogenic, and may, or may not, be sensitive to proteolysis. It is shown, by numerical integration of the differential rate equations derived from this model, that a strain may be stabilized after two or three passages through a different species and that transmission might occur in the absence of detectable protease-resistant prion protein. The natural transmission of scrapie to cattle is discussed in relation to the model.
Project description:Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD), the most common human prion disease, is transmissible through iatrogenic routes due to abundant infectious prions [misfolded forms of the prion protein (PrPSc)] in the central nervous system (CNS). Some epidemiological studies have associated sCJD risk with non-CNS surgeries. We explored the potential prion seeding activity and infectivity of skin from sCJD patients. Autopsy or biopsy skin samples from 38 patients [21 sCJD, 2 variant CJD (vCJD), and 15 non-CJD] were analyzed by Western blotting and real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC) for PrPSc Skin samples from two patients were further examined for prion infectivity by bioassay using two lines of humanized transgenic mice. Western blotting revealed dermal PrPSc in one of five deceased sCJD patients and one of two vCJD patients. However, the more sensitive RT-QuIC assay detected prion seeding activity in skin from all 23 CJD decedents but not in skin from any non-CJD control individuals (with other neurological conditions or other diseases) during blinded testing. Although sCJD patient skin contained ~103- to 105-fold lower prion seeding activity than did sCJD patient brain tissue, all 12 mice from two transgenic mouse lines inoculated with sCJD skin homogenates from two sCJD patients succumbed to prion disease within 564 days after inoculation. Our study demonstrates that the skin of sCJD patients contains both prion seeding activity and infectivity, which raises concerns about the potential for iatrogenic sCJD transmission via skin.
Project description:Prion disease is caused by a single pathogenic protein (PrPSc), an abnormal conformer of the normal cellular prion protein PrPC. Depletion of PrPC in prion knockout mice makes them resistant to prion disease. Thus, gene silencing of the Prnp gene is a promising effective therapeutic approach. Here, we examined adeno-associated virus vector type 2 encoding a short hairpin RNA targeting Prnp mRNA (AAV2-PrP-shRNA) to suppress PrPC expression both in vitro and in vivo. AAV2-PrP-shRNA treatment suppressed PrP levels and prevented dendritic degeneration in RML-infected brain aggregate cultures. Infusion of AAV2-PrP-shRNA-eGFP into the thalamus of CD-1 mice showed that eGFP was transported to the cerebral cortex via anterograde transport and the overall PrPC levels were reduced by ? 70% within 4 weeks. For therapeutic purposes, we treated RML-infected CD-1 mice with AAV2-PrP-shRNA beginning at 50 days post inoculation. Although AAV2-PrP-shRNA focally suppressed PrPSc formation in the thalamic infusion site by ? 75%, it did not suppress PrPSc formation efficiently in other regions of the brain. Survival of mice was not extended compared to the untreated controls. Global suppression of PrPC in the brain is required for successful therapy of prion diseases.
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.