The prion responsible for the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) shows unique features when compared with other prions. One of these features is its ability to infect almost all experimentally tested animal models. In the paper published in The Journal of Neuroscience1 we describe a series of experiments directed toward elucidating which would be the in vivo behavior of BSE if it would infect dogs and rabbits, two alleged prion resistant species. Protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) was used to generate canidae and leporidae in vitro adapted BSE prions. A characterization of their in vivo pathobiological properties showed that BSE prions were capable not only of adapting to new species but they maintained, in the case of rabbits, their ability to infect transgenic mice expressing human PrP. The remarkable adaptation ability of certain prions implies that any new host species could lead to the emergence of new infectious agents with unpredictable transmission potential. Our results suggest that caution must be taken when considering the use of any mammal-derived protein in feedstuffs.
- Prion resistant species
- Transmission barrier