Induction of antibodies against human prion proteins (PrP) by DNA-mediated immunization of PrP0/0 mice

J Immunol Methods. 1996 Dec 15;199(2):109-18. doi: 10.1016/s0022-1759(96)00165-2.


Prion diseases are neurodegenerative disorders, affecting humans and animals. The human diseases include kuru, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome (GSS), and fatal familial insomnia (FFI). To generate monospecific antisera against human prion proteins we have immunized mice with DNA coding for different human prion proteins. We constructed immunization vectors expressing individual genotypes of either the cellular prion gene (PRNP) or mutant forms under appropriate promoters. This approach avoids the preparation of infectious material for immunization. To circumvent immunological tolerance prion protein-deficient PrP0/0 mice were used for the DNA-mediated immunization. Thereby monospecific sera were raised capable of specifically precipitating in vitro synthesized human prion proteins. With prion protein-specific peptide ELISAs, we found that antibodies are predominantly directed against the octapeptide repeat region and to a lesser extent to regions comprising the signal peptide, the neurotoxic domain or the GPI anchor. In contrast, prion gene-positive (PrP+/+) BALB/c mice immunized under the same experimental conditions as the PrP0/0 mice did not respond with antibody formation against the human prion protein. This is the first report clearly showing that immune competent prion protein-deficient mice react with a vigorous polyclonal immune response after DNA-mediated immunization with human prion gene sequences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation
  • DNA / immunology*
  • Genes
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Prions / genetics
  • Prions / immunology*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Vaccines, Synthetic / immunology


  • Peptides
  • Prions
  • Vaccines, Synthetic
  • DNA