The real-time quaking-induced conversion assay for detection of human prion disease and study of other protein misfolding diseases

Nat Protoc. 2016 Nov;11(11):2233-2242. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2016.120. Epub 2016 Oct 13.


The development and adaption of in vitro misfolded protein amplification systems has been a major innovation in the detection of abnormally folded prion protein scrapie (PrPSc) in human brain and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples. Herein, we describe a fast and efficient protein amplification technique, real-time quaking-induced conversion (RT-QuIC), for the detection of a PrPSc seed in human brain and CSF. In contrast to other in vitro misfolded protein amplification assays-such as protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA)-which are based on sonication, the RT-QuIC technique is based on prion seed-induced misfolding and aggregation of recombinant prion protein substrate, accelerated by alternating cycles of shaking and rest in fluorescence plate readers. A single RT-QuIC assay typically analyzes up to 32 samples in triplicate, using a 96-well-plate format. From sample preparation to analysis of results, the protocol takes ∼87 h to complete. In addition to diagnostics, this technique has substantial generic analytical applications, including drug screening, prion strain discrimination, biohazard screening (e.g., to reduce transmission risk related to prion diseases) and the study of protein misfolding; in addition, it can potentially be used for the investigation of other protein misfolding diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Chemistry Tests / methods*
  • Cricetinae
  • Humans
  • Limit of Detection
  • PrPSc Proteins / blood
  • PrPSc Proteins / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Prion Diseases / blood
  • Prion Diseases / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Prion Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Proteostasis Deficiencies / blood
  • Proteostasis Deficiencies / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Proteostasis Deficiencies / diagnosis*
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Time Factors


  • PrPSc Proteins