Virus like sensitivity of the scrapie agent to heat inactivation

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Science  10 Feb 1984:
Vol. 223, Issue 4636, pp. 600-602
DOI: 10.1126/science.6420887


The resistance of the infectious agent of scrapie disease to sterilization at 100 degrees or 121 degrees C is reputed to be inconsistent with the structure of conventional viruses. However, in kinetic studies the majority of hamster scrapie strain 263K infectivity was (like that of previously characterized viruses) rapidly inactivated at temperatures of 100 degrees C or greater. Small resistant subpopulations remained. Similar heat-resistant subpopulations were observed at 60 degrees C for phage lambda but only in the presence of brain homogenate. Brain homogenate may also confer stability to small subfractions of scrapie infectivity. Such refractory subpopulations cannot be used to make structural inferences that are properly obtained from the behavior of the majority population as revealed in the initial inactivation.