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Disease-associated Prion Protein in Neural and Lymphoid Tissues of Mink (Mustela vison) Inoculated with Transmissible Mink Encephalopathy

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Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are diagnosed by immunodetection of disease-associated prion protein (PrPd). The distribution of PrPd within the body varies with the time-course of infection and between species, during interspecies transmission, as well as with prion strain. Mink are susceptible to a form of TSE known as transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME), presumed to arise due to consumption of feed contaminated with a single prion strain of ruminant origin. After extended passage of TME isolates in hamsters, two strains emerge, HY and DY, each of which is associated with unique structural isoforms of PrPTME and of which only the HY strain is associated with accumulation of PrPTME in lymphoid tissues. Information on the structural nature and lymphoid accumulation of PrPTME in mink is limited. In this study, 13 mink were challenged by intracerebral inoculation using late passage TME inoculum, after which brain and lymphoid tissues were collected at preclinical and clinical time points. The distribution and molecular nature of PrPTME was investigated by techniques including blotting of paraffin wax-embedded tissue and epitope mapping by western blotting. PrPTME was detected readily in the brain and retropharyngeal lymph node during preclinical infection, with delayed progression of accumulation within other lymphoid tissues. For comparison, three mink were inoculated by the oral route and examined during clinical disease. Accumulation of PrPTME in these mink was greater and more widespread, including follicles of rectoanal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue. Western blot analyses revealed that PrPTME accumulating in the brain of mink is structurally most similar to that accumulating in the brain of hamsters infected with the DY strain. Collectively, the results of extended passage in mink are consistent with the presence of only a single strain of TME, the DY strain, capable of inducing accumulation of PrPTME in the lymphoid tissues of mink but not in hamsters. Thus, mink are a relevant animal model for further study of this unique strain, which ultimately may have been introduced through consumption of a TSE of ruminant origin.
D. A. Schneider , R. D. Harrington , D. Zhuang , H. Yan , T. C. Truscott , R. P. Dassanayake , K. I. O'Rourke
USDA Scientist Submission
Journal of comparative pathology 2012 Nov. v.147 no.4
Elsevier Ltd
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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