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Am J Pathol. 2006 Jan;168(1):151-7.

Detection of type 1 prion protein in variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

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National CJD Surveillance Unit, School of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH4 2XU, UK.


Molecular typing of the abnormal form of the prion protein (PrP(Sc)) has come to be regarded as a powerful tool in the investigation of the prion diseases. All evidence thus far presented indicates a single PrP(Sc) molecular type in variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (termed type 2B), presumably resulting from infection with a single strain of the agent (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). Here we show for the first time that the PrP(Sc) that accumulates in the brain in variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease also contains a minority type 1 component. This minority type 1 PrP(Sc) was found in all 21 cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease tested, irrespective of brain region examined, and was also present in the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease tonsil. The quantitative balance between PrP(Sc) types was maintained when variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was transmitted to wild-type mice and was also found in bovine spongiform encephalopathy cattle brain, indicating that the agent rather than the host specifies their relative representation. These results indicate that PrP(Sc) molecular typing is based on quantitative rather than qualitative phenomena and point to a complex relationship between prion protein biochemistry, disease phenotype and agent strain.

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