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New in vivo and ex vivo models for the experimental study of sheep scrapie: development and perspectives

Abstract : Sheep scrapie is a prototypical transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), and the most widespread of these diseases. Experimental study of TSE infectious agents from sheep and other species essentially depends on bioassays in rodents. Transmission of natural sheep scrapie to conventional mice commonly requires one or two years. In an effort to develop laboratory models in which investigations on the sheep TSE agent would be facilitated, we have established mice and cell lines that were genetically engineered to express ovine PrP protein and examined their susceptibility to the infection. A series of transgenic mice lines (tgOv) expressing the high susceptibility allele (VRQ) of the ovine PrP gene from different constructs was expanded. Following intracerebral inoculation with natural scrapie isolates, all animals developed typical TSE neurological signs and accumulated abnormal PrP in their brain. The survival time in the highest expressing tgOv lines ranged from 2 to 7 months, depending on the isolate. It was inversely related to the brain PrP content, and essentially unchanged on further passaging. Ovine PrP transgene expression thus enhanced scrapie disease transmission from sheep to mice. Such tgOv mice may bring new opportunities for analysing the natural variation of scrapie strains and measuring infectivity. As no relevant cell culture models for agents of naturally-occurring TSE exist, we have explored various strategies in order to obtain stable cell lines that would propagate the sheep agent ex vivo without prior adaptation to rodent. In one otherwise refractory rabbit epithelial cell line, a regulable expression of ovine PrP was achieved and found to enable an efficient replication of the scrapie agent in inoculated cultures. Cells derived from sheep embryos or from tgOv mice were also used in an attempt to establish permissive cell lines derived from the nervous system. Cells engineered to express PrP proteins of a specified sequence may thus represent a promising strategy to further explore, at the cellular level, various aspects of TSE diseases.
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Hubert Laude, Didier Vilette, Fabienne Archer, Annick Le Dur, Solange Soulier, et al.. New in vivo and ex vivo models for the experimental study of sheep scrapie: development and perspectives. Comptes Rendus Biologies, Elsevier, 2002, 325 (1), pp.49-57. ⟨10.1016/S1631-0691(02)01393-8⟩. ⟨hal-02678274⟩



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