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Generating a Prion with Bacterially Expressed Recombinant Prion Protein

Science  26 Feb 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5969, pp. 1132-1135
DOI: 10.1126/science.1183748

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Abstract

The prion hypothesis posits that a misfolded form of prion protein (PrP) is responsible for the infectivity of prion disease. Using recombinant murine PrP purified from Escherichia coli, we created a recombinant prion with the attributes of the pathogenic PrP isoform: aggregated, protease-resistant, and self-perpetuating. After intracerebral injection of the recombinant prion, wild-type mice developed neurological signs in ~130 days and reached the terminal stage of disease in ~150 days. Characterization of diseased mice revealed classic neuropathology of prion disease, the presence of protease-resistant PrP, and the capability of serially transmitting the disease; these findings confirmed that the mice succumbed to prion disease. Thus, as postulated by the prion hypothesis, the infectivity in mammalian prion disease results from an altered conformation of PrP.

  • * These authors contributed equally to this work.

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