Resistance to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) in sheep can be influenced by polymorphisms of the gene that encodes prion protein (PrP). In vitro conversion experiments showed that VRQ and ARQ alleles of PrP are associated with susceptibility to bovine spongiform encephalopathies (BSE), whereas the ARR allele is associated with resistance to the conversion of PrP to the disease-causing PrPSc form. But in the May 29 Nature, Fiona Houston and colleagues from Institute for Animal Health show that even the sheep with the genotype associated with highest resistance (ARR) can still be infected with BSE by intracerebral inoculation (Nature, 423:498, May 29, 2003).

Houston et al. inoculated infected cattle-brain homogenate into the brain of sheep with different PrP genotypes and investigated their resistance to transmission of BSE. They observed that VRQ and ARQ sheep developed the disease, and that 3 out of 19 ARR/ARR sheep...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?