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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Animal Disease Center » Virus and Prion Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #363305

Research Project: Pathobiology, Genetics, and Detection of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies

Location: Virus and Prion Research

Title: Sheep are susceptible to the agent of TME by intracranial inoculation and have evidence of infectivity in lymphoid tissues

item CASSMANN, ERIC - Oak Ridge Institute For Science And Education (ORISE)
item MOORE, SARA - Oak Ridge Institute For Science And Education (ORISE)
item SMITH, JODI - Iowa State University
item Greenlee, Justin

Submitted to: Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/14/2019
Publication Date: 11/29/2019
Citation: Cassmann, E.D., Moore, S.J., Smith, J.D., Greenlee, J.J. 2019. Sheep are susceptible to the agent of TME by intracranial inoculation and have evidence of infectivity in lymphoid tissues. Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 6:430.

Interpretive Summary: Prion diseases are protein misfolding diseases that are transmissible between animals. The outcome of prion infection is irreversible brain damage and death. Transmission can occur between animals of the same or different species, however, transmission between different species is usually less efficient due to the species barrier, which results from differences in the amino acid sequence of the prion protein between the donor and recipient species. The present work evaluated whether transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME) can infect sheep. Our results demonstrate that sheep are susceptible to the TME agent and that the TME agent has similar properties to the agent of L-type atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (L-BSE). This work supports the ideas that L-BSE is a possible source for TME in mink and that the practice of feeding cattle with neurologic disease to mink should be avoided. This information is important to farmers who raise cattle, sheep, or mink.

Technical Abstract: Transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME) is a food borne prion disease. Epidemiological and experimental evidence suggests similarities between the agent of TME and L-BSE. This experiment demonstrates the susceptibility of four different genotypes of sheep to the agent of TME by intracranial inoculation. The four genotypes of sheep used in this experiment had polymorphisms corresponding to codons 136 and 171 of the prion gene: VV136QQ171, AV136QQ171, AA136QQ171, and AA136QR171. All intracranially inoculated sheep without comorbidities (15/15) developed clinical scrapie and had detectable PrPSc by immunohistochemistry, western blot, and enzyme immunoassay (EIA). The mean incubation periods in TME infected sheep correlated with their relative genotypic susceptibility. There was peripheral distribution of PrPSc in the trigeminal ganglion and neuromuscular spindles; however, unlike classical scrapie and C-BSE in sheep, ovine TME did not accumulate in the lymphoid tissue. To rule out the presence of infectious, but proteinase K susceptible PrPSc, the lymph nodes of two sheep genotypes, VV136QQ171 and AA136QQ171, were bioassayed in transgenic ovinized mice. None of the mice (0/32) inoculated by the intraperitoneal route had detectable PrPSc by EIA. Interestingly, mice intracranially inoculated with RPLN tissue from a VV136QQ171 sheep were EIA positive (3/17) indicating that sheep inoculated with TME harbor infectivity in their lymph nodes. Western blot analysis demonstrated similarities in the migration patterns between ovine TME and the bovine TME inoculum. Overall, these results demonstrate that sheep are susceptible to the agent of TME, and that the tissue distribution of PrPSc in TME infected sheep is distinct from classical scrapie.