Current models of the virus-like agents of scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) have to take into account that structural changes in a host-encoded protein (PrP protein) exhibit an effect on the time course of these diseases and the survival time of any man or animal exposed to these pathogens. We report here the sequence of different forms of the bovine PrP gene which contain either five or six copies of a short, G-C-rich element which encodes the octapeptide Pro-His-Gly-Gly-Gly-Trp-Gly-Gln or its longer variants Pro-Gln/His-Gly-Gly-Gly-Gly-Trp-Gly-Gln. Out of 12 cattle, we found eight animals homozygous for genes with six copies of the Gly-rich peptide (6:6), while four were heterozygous (6:5). Two confirmed cases of BSE occurred in (6:6) homozygous animals.


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