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J Gen Virol. 2007 Mar;88(Pt 3):1056-61.

Dynamics and genetics of PrPSc placental accumulation in sheep.

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UMR INRA ENVT 1225, Interactions Hôte Agent Pathogène, Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Toulouse, 23 Chemin des Capelles, 31076 Toulouse, France.


Placentae from scrapie-affected ewes are an important source of contamination. This study confirmed that scrapie-incubating ewes bearing susceptible genotypes could produce both abnormal prion protein (PrPSc)-positive and -negative placentae, depending only on the PRP genotype of the fetus. The results also provided evidence indicating that scrapie-incubating ARR/VRQ ewes may be unable to accumulate prions in the placenta, whatever the genotype of their progeny. Multinucleated trophoblast cells appeared to play a key role in placental PrPSc accumulation. PrPSc accumulation began in syncytiotrophoblasts before disseminating to uninucleated trophoblasts. As these result from trophoblast/uterine epithelial cell fusion, syncytiotrophoblast cells expressed maternal and fetal PrPC, whilst uninucleated trophoblast cells only expressed fetal PrPC. In ARR/VRQ scrapie-infected ewes, expression of the ARR allele by syncytiotrophoblasts appeared to prevent initiation of PrPSc placental deposition. The absence of prions in affected ARR/VRQ sheep placentae reinforces strongly the interest in ARR selection for scrapie control.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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