Molecular modeling of prion transmission to humans

Viruses. 2014 Oct 2;6(10):3766-77. doi: 10.3390/v6103766.


Using different prion strains, such as the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease agent and the atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy agents, and using transgenic mice expressing human or bovine prion protein, we assessed the reliability of protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) to model interspecies and genetic barriers to prion transmission. We compared our PMCA results with in vivo transmission data characterized by attack rates, i.e., the percentage of inoculated mice that developed the disease. Using 19 seed/substrate combinations, we observed that a significant PMCA amplification was only obtained when the mouse line used as substrate is susceptible to the corresponding strain. Our results suggest that PMCA provides a useful tool to study genetic barriers to transmission and to study the zoonotic potential of emerging prion strains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cattle
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome / transmission*
  • Encephalopathy, Bovine Spongiform / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Prions / physiology*
  • Protein Folding
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Species Specificity


  • Prions