1887

Abstract

Scrapie is a fatal neurodegenerative disease of sheep that belongs to the group of prion diseases found in humans and animals. The host encoded prion protein (PrP) plays a central role in the disease process. In the PrP genes of man, mice and sheep, polymorphisms have been found that are associated with disease susceptibility and pathogenesis. We have used denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (DGGE) to detect polymorphisms in the sheep PrP gene. In addition to the already described polymorphisms at codons 136, 154 and 171, we identified a hitherto unknown G → T transition at codon 171. This transition is responsible for a glutamine to histidine substitution. An arginine to glutamine substitution at this position has been described previously. DGGE allowed us to identify five different combinations of these polymorphisms within the PrP gene representing five allelic variants, which were cloned and sequenced. Based on the triplet sequences present at codons 136, 154 and 171 these allelic variants were designated PrP, PrP, PrP, PrP and PrP. To determine the association of these allelic variants with natural scrapie, we screened 34 scrapie affected and 91 healthy control sheep of the Texel breed for the presence of these allelic variants. In these two groups, the five variants gave rise to 13 different genotypes. The distribution of the allelic variants among both groups showed marked differences. The PrP variant was present with high frequency in scrapie affected sheep, whereas the PrP variant was almost exclusively present in the healthy group. Two other variants, PrP and PrP, were found in both groups with equal frequencies. The data obtained suggest modulation of disease susceptibility in these Texel sheep by at least five different PrP allelic variants, with the PrP and PrP alleles acting in a dominant, but opposite fashion over the PrP and PrP alleles. The frequency of the PrP variant was too low to draw any conclusions.

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1995-03-01
2022-01-28
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