Bank vole is a small rodent that shows high susceptibility to infection with diverse prion strains. To determine whether the increased susceptibility of bank voles to prion diseases can be attributed to the intrinsic nature of bank vole prion protein (PrP) or to host factors other than PrP, we produced transgenic mice overexpressing bank vole PrP. These transgenic mice spontaneously developed neurological illness with spongiform changes and the accumulation of abnormal PrP in the brain. Then, we produced transgenic mice overexpressing chimeric mouse/bank vole PrP, which differs from mouse PrP only at two residues located at the C-terminus, to determine the minimum essential domain for the induction of spontaneous generation of abnormal PrP. These transgenic mice also developed spontaneous neurological illness with spongiform changes and the accumulation of abnormal PrP in the brain. In addition, knock-in mice expressing bank vole PrP at the same level as that of wild-type mice did not develop spontaneous disease but showed high susceptibility to infection with diverse prion strains, similarly to bank voles. Taken together, these findings show that bank vole PrP has a high propensity for the conformational conversion both in spontaneous disease and in prion infection, probably due to the characteristic structural properties of the C-terminal domain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Clinical Neurology