Free Access
Vet. Res.
Volume 39, Number 4, July-August 2008
Prion diseases in animals
Number of page(s) 13
Published online 15 February 2008
How to cite this article Vet. Res. (2008) 39:32
How to cite this article: Vet. Res. (2008) 39:32
DOI: 10.1051/vetres:2008008


Rodent models for prion diseases

Martin H. Groschup and Anne Buschmann

Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI), Institute for Novel and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Südufer 10, 17493 Greifswald - Insel Riems, Germany

Received 2 September 2007; accepted 15 January 2008; published online 15 February 2008

Abstract - Until today most prion strains can only be propagated and the infectivity content assayed by experimentally challenging conventional or transgenic animals. Robust cell culture systems are not available for any of the natural and only for a few of the experimental prion strains. Moreover, the pathogenesis of different transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) can be analysed systematically by using experimentally infected animals. While, in the beginning, animals belonging to the natural host species were used, more and more rodent model species have been established, mostly due to practical reasons. Nowadays, most of these experiments are performed using highly susceptible transgenic mouse lines expressing cellular prion proteins, PrP, from a variety of species like cattle, sheep, goat, cervidae, elk, hamster, mouse, mink, pig, and man. In addition, transgenic mice carrying specific mutations or polymorphisms have helped to understand the molecular pathomechanisms of prion diseases. Transgenic mouse models have been utilised to investigate the physiological role of PrP$^{\rm C}$, molecular aspects of species barrier effects, the cell specificity of the prion propagation, the role of the PrP glycosylation, the mechanisms of the prion spread, the neuropathological roles of PrP$^{\rm C}$ and of its abnormal isoform PrP$^{\rm D}$ (D for disease) as well as the function of PrP Doppel. Transgenic mouse models have also been used for mapping of PrP regions involved in or required for the PrP conversion and prion replication as well as for modelling of familial forms of human prion diseases.

Key words: prion / scrapie / BSE / transgenic mouse

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© INRA, EDP Sciences 2008