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Exp Mol Pathol. 2004 Aug;77(1):49-56.

Linking chronic wasting disease to scrapie by comparison of Spiroplasma mirum ribosomal DNA sequences.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA. fbastian@tulane.edu

Abstract

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) are fatal neurodegenerative diseases of man and animals and are transmitted by a filterable pathogen whose identity is currently unresolved. Our data indicates that Spiroplasma, a wall-less bacterium, is involved in the pathogenesis of TSE. We searched for Spiroplasma ribosomal gene sequences in 10 scrapie-infected sheep brains and 10 normal sheep brains, 7 cervid samples infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD), and 7 normal cervid brains. DNA was extracted from these tissue samples and amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers specific for Spiroplasma-specific 16S rDNA. Specificity of the amplicon was determined by Southern blotting and DNA sequence analyses. Spiroplasma 16S rDNA was found in 8 of 10 scrapie-infected sheep brains and 6 of 7 CWD-infected tissue samples. All normal animal brain samples were negative. Spiroplasma 16S rDNA was also found in two human Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseased (CJD) brains but not in two age-matched normal human brains. DNA sequence analyses of the amplified PCR products from human and animal TSE cases revealed greater than 99% nucleotide sequence homology with Spiroplasma mirum. The presence of Spiroplasma DNA in TSE-infected tissues supports our hypothesis that Spiroplasma may be involved in the pathogenesis of these diseases.

PMID:
15215050
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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