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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1994 Sep 13;91(19):9126-30.

Serial transmission in rodents of neurodegeneration from transgenic mice expressing mutant prion protein.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


Two lines of transgenic (Tg) mice expressing high (H) levels of the mutant P101L prion protein (PrP) developed a neurologic illness and central nervous system pathology indistinguishable from experimental murine scrapie; these mice were designated Tg(MoPrP-P101L)H. Brain homogenates from Tg(MoPrP-P101L)H mice were inoculated intracerebrally into CD-1 Swiss mice, Syrian hamsters, and Tg196 mice, Tg mice expressing the MoPrP-P101L transgene at low levels. None of the CD-1 mice developed central nervous system dysfunction, whereas approximately 10% of hamsters and approximately 40% of the Tg196 mice manifested neurologic signs between 117 and 639 days after inoculation. Serial transmission of neurodegeneration in Tg196 mice and Syrian hamsters was initiated with brain extracts, producing incubation times of approximately 400 and approximately 75 days, respectively. Although the Tg(MoPrP-P101L)H mice appear to accumulate only low levels of infections prions in their brains, the serial transmission of disease to inoculated recipients argues that prion formation occurs de novo in the brains of these uninoculated animals. These Tg mouse studies, taken together with similar findings in humans dying of inherited prion diseases, provide additional evidence that prions lack a foreign nucleic acid.

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