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Primary structural differences at residue 226 of deer and elk PrP dictate selection of distinct CWD prion strains in gene-targeted mice.


ABSTRACT: 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.

SUBMITTER: Bian J 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6589652 | BioStudies | 2019-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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