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Resistance of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Prions to Inactivation

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Distinct prion strains often exhibit different incubation periods and patterns of neuropathological lesions. Strain characteristics are generally retained upon intraspecies transmission, but may change on transmission to another species. We investigated the inactivation of two related prions strains: BSE prions from cattle and mouse-passaged BSE prions, termed 301V. Inactivation was manipulated by exposure to sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), variations in pH, and different temperatures. Infectivity was measured using transgenic mouse lines that are highly susceptible to either BSE or 301V prions. Bioassays demonstrated that BSE prions are up to 1,000-fold more resistant to inactivation than 301V prions while Western immunoblotting showed that short acidic SDS treatments reduced protease-resistant PrP(Sc) from BSE prions and 301V prions at similar rates. Our findings argue that despite being derived from BSE prions, mouse 301V prions are not necessarily a reliable model for cattle BSE prions. Extending these comparisons to human sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and hamster Sc237 prions, we found that BSE prions were 10- and 10(6)-fold more resistant to inactivation, respectively. Our studies contend that any prion inactivation procedures must be validated by bioassay against the prion strain for which they are intended to be used.

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