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, 100 (10), 603-15

Mouse Neuroblastoma Cells Release Prion Infectivity Associated With Exosomal Vesicles

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Mouse Neuroblastoma Cells Release Prion Infectivity Associated With Exosomal Vesicles

Sandrine Alais et al. Biol Cell.

Abstract

Background information: TSEs (transmissible spongiform encephalopathies) are neurodegenerative disorders affecting humans and animals. PrP(Sc), a conformationally altered isoform of the normal prion protein (PrP(C)), is thought to be the pathogenic agent. However, the biochemical composition of the prion agent is still matter of debate. The potential transmission risk of the prion agent through biological fluids has been shown, but the development of competitive diagnostic tests and treatment for TSEs requires a more comprehensive knowledge of the agent and the cellular mechanisms by which it is disseminated. With this aim, we initiated characterization of the prion agent and the pathways by which it can be propagated using the cellular model system neuroblastoma (N2a).

Results: The present study shows that N2a cells infected with scrapie release the prion agent into the cell culture medium in association with exosome-like structures and viral particles of endogenous origin. We found that both prion proteins and scrapie infectivity are mainly associated with exosome-like structures that contain viral envelope glycoprotein and nucleic acids, such as RNAs.

Conclusions: The dissemination of prions in N2a cell culture is mediated through the exosomal pathway.

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