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J Gen Virol. 2005 Jan;86(Pt 1):241-6.

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy strain, PrP genotype and brain region all affect the degree of glycosylation of PrPSc.

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  • 1Neuropathogenesis Unit, Institute for Animal Health, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JF, UK.


Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), sometimes known as prion diseases, are caused by an infectious agent whose molecular properties have not been determined. Traditionally, different strains of TSE diseases are characterized by a series of phenotypic properties after passage in experimental animals. More recently it has been recognized that diversity in the degree to which an abnormal form of the host protein PrP, denoted PrP(Sc), is glycosylated and the migration of aglycosyl forms of PrP(Sc) on immunoblots may have some differential diagnostic potential. It has been recognized that these factors are affected by the strain of TSE agent but also by other factors, e.g. location within the brain. This study shows in some cases, but not others, that host PrP genotype has a major influence on the degree of PrP(Sc) glycosylation and migration on gels and provides further evidence of the effect of brain location. Accordingly both the degree of glycosylation and the apparent molecular mass of PrP(Sc) may be of some value for differential diagnosis between TSE strains, but only when host effects are taken into account. Furthermore, the data inform the debate about how these differences arise, and favour hypotheses proposing that TSE agents affect glycosylation of PrP during its biosynthesis.

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