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Mamm Genome. 2009 Jun;20(6):367-74. doi: 10.1007/s00335-009-9194-5. Epub 2009 Jun 10.

Shadoo (Sprn) and prion disease incubation time in mice.

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  • 1MRC Prion Unit and Department of Neurodegenerative Diseases, UCL Institute of Neurology, London, UK.


Prion diseases are transmissible neurodegenerative disorders of mammalian species and include scrapie, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). The prion protein (PrP) plays a key role in the disease, with coding polymorphism in both human and mouse influencing disease susceptibility and incubation time, respectively. Other genes are also thought to be important and a plausible candidate is Sprn, which encodes the PrP-like protein Shadoo (Sho). Sho is expressed in the adult central nervous system and exhibits neuroprotective activity reminiscent of PrP in an in vitro assay. To investigate the role of Sprn in prion disease incubation time we sequenced the open reading frame (ORF) in a diverse panel of mice and saw little variation except in strains derived from wild-trapped mice. Sequencing the untranslated regions revealed polymorphisms that allowed us to carry out an association study of incubation period in the Northport heterogeneous stock of mice inoculated with Chandler/RML prions. We also examined the expression level of Sprn mRNA in the brains of normal and prion-infected mice and saw no correlation with either genotype or incubation time. We therefore conclude that Sprn does not play a major role in prion disease incubation time in these strains of mice.

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