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COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Identification of a second bovine amyloidotic spongiform encephalopathy: molecular similarities with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Cristina Casalone, Gianluigi Zanusso, Pierluigi Acutis, Sergio Ferrari, Lorenzo Capucci, Fabrizio Tagliavini, Salvatore Monaco, Maria Caramelli
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2004 March 2, 101 (9): 3065-70
14970340
Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), or prion diseases, are mammalian neurodegenerative disorders characterized by a posttranslational conversion and brain accumulation of an insoluble, protease-resistant isoform (PrP(Sc)) of the host-encoded cellular prion protein (PrP(C)). Human and animal TSE agents exist as different phenotypes that can be biochemically differentiated on the basis of the molecular mass of the protease-resistant PrP(Sc) fragments and the degree of glycosylation. Epidemiological, molecular, and transmission studies strongly suggest that the single strain of agent responsible for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has infected humans, causing variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The unprecedented biological properties of the BSE agent, which circumvents the so-called "species barrier" between cattle and humans and adapts to different mammalian species, has raised considerable concern for human health. To date, it is unknown whether more than one strain might be responsible for cattle TSE or whether the BSE agent undergoes phenotypic variation after natural transmission. Here we provide evidence of a second cattle TSE. The disorder was pathologically characterized by the presence of PrP-immunopositive amyloid plaques, as opposed to the lack of amyloid deposition in typical BSE cases, and by a different pattern of regional distribution and topology of brain PrP(Sc) accumulation. In addition, Western blot analysis showed a PrP(Sc) type with predominance of the low molecular mass glycoform and a protease-resistant fragment of lower molecular mass than BSE-PrP(Sc). Strikingly, the molecular signature of this previously undescribed bovine PrP(Sc) was similar to that encountered in a distinct subtype of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

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