A cellular form of the prion protein (PrP) is thought to be a substrate for an abnormal isoform of the prion protein (PrP) in scrapie. PrP is abundant in tissues of the central nervous system, but little is known about the distribution of PrP in non-neuronal tissues of sheep, the natural host of scrapie. This study investigated the tissue distribution of PrP in sheep. Although PrP was abundant in neuronal tissues, it was also detected in non-neuronal tissues such as spleen, lymph node, lung, heart, kidney, skeletal muscle, uterus, adrenal gland, parotid gland, intestine, proventriculus, abomasum and mammary gland. Neither PrP nor PrP mRNA was detected in the liver. The tissue distribution of PrP appears to be inconsistent with the tissues which possess scrapie infectivity, suggesting that factor(s) specific to certain cell types may be required to support multiplication of the scrapie agent.


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