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PLoS One. 2014 Mar 10;9(3):e91026. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0091026. eCollection 2014.

Incidence of infection in Prnp ARR/ARR sheep following experimental inoculation with or natural exposure to classical scrapie.

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Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA-Lasswade), Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland, United Kingdom.
Moredun Research Institute, Pentlands Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Midlothian, Scotland, United Kingdom.


The prion protein gene (Prnp) is highly influential in determining risk and susceptibility of sheep exposed to classical scrapie. Sheep homozygous for alanine at codon 136 and arginine at codons 154 and 171 (ARR/ARR) of the Prnp gene are historically considered to be highly resistant to classical scrapie, although they form a significant fraction of cases of atypical scrapie. To date, experimental transmission of prions to ARR/ARR sheep has only been achieved with the BSE agent and mostly by the intracerebral route. We summarise here the results of six separate studies, in which 95 sheep of the ARR/ARR genotype were naturally exposed to (n = 18) or experimentally challenged with (n = 77) natural or experimental sources of classical scrapie by the oral, intra-intestinal, subcutaneous or intracerebral routes and allowed to survive for periods of up to 94 months post-infection. Only the intracerebral route resulted in disease and/or amplification of disease associated PrP (PrPd), and only in two of 19 sheep that survived for longer than 36 months. Discriminatory immunohistochemistry and Western blot confirmed the scrapie, non-BSE signature of PrPd in those two sheep. However, the neuropathological phenotype was different from any other scrapie (classical or atypical) or BSE source previously reported in sheep of any Prnp genotype. These studies confirm the widely held view that ARR/ARR sheep are highly resistant to classical scrapie infection, at least within their commercial lifespan. Moreover, within the constraints of the present studies (only two infected sheep), these results do not support the suggestion that atypical scrapie or BSE are generated by adaptation or mutation of classical scrapie in sheep of resistant ARR/ARR genotype.

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