JOURNAL ARTICLE

Molecular typing of protease-resistant prion protein in transmissible spongiform encephalopathies of small ruminants, France, 2002-2009

Johann Vulin, Anne-Gaëlle Biacabe, Géraldine Cazeau, Didier Calavas, Thierry Baron
Emerging Infectious Diseases 2011, 17 (1): 55-63
21192855
The agent that causes bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) may be infecting small ruminants, which could have serious implications for human health. To distinguish BSE from scrapie and to examine the molecular characteristics of the protease-resistant prion protein (PrP(res)), we used a specifically designed Western blot method to test isolates from 648 sheep and 53 goats. During 2002-2009, classical non-Nor98 transmissible spongiform encephalopathy had been confirmed among ≈1.7 million small ruminants in France. Five sheep and 2 goats that showed a PrP(res) pattern consistent with BSE, or with the CH1641 experimental scrapie source, were identified. Later, bioassays confirmed infection by the BSE agent in 1 of the 2 goats. Western blot testing of the 6 other isolates showed an additional C-terminally cleaved PrP(res) product, with an unglycosylated band at ≈14 kDa, similar to that found in the CH1641 experimental scrapie isolate and different from the BSE isolate.

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