Efficient interspecies transmission of synthetic prions

Alyssa J. Block, Ronald A. Shikiya, Thomas E. Eckland, Anthony E. Kincaid, Ryan W. Walters, Jiyan Ma, Jason C. Bartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Prions are comprised solely of PrPSc, the misfolded self-propagating conformation of the cellular protein, PrPC. Synthetic prions are generated in vitro from minimal components and cause bona fide prion disease in animals. It is unknown, however, if synthetic prions can cross the species barrier following interspecies transmission. To investigate this, we inoculated Syrian hamsters with murine synthetic prions. We found that all the animals inoculated with murine synthetic prions developed prion disease characterized by a striking uniformity of clinical onset and signs of disease. Serial intraspecies transmission resulted in a rapid adaptation to hamsters. During the adaptation process, PrPSc electrophoretic migration, glycoform ratios, conformational stability and biological activity as measured by protein misfolding cyclic amplification remained constant. Interestingly, the strain that emerged shares a strikingly similar transmission history, incubation period, clinical course of disease, pathology and biochemical and biological features of PrPSc with 139H, a hamster adapted form of the murine strain 139A. Combined, these data suggest that murine synthetic prions are comprised of bona fide PrPSc with 139A-like strain properties that efficiently crosses the species barrier and rapidly adapts to hamsters resulting in the emergence of a single strain. The efficiency and specificity of interspecies transmission of murine synthetic prions to hamsters, with relevance to brain derived prions, could be a useful model for identification of structure function relationships between PrPSc and PrPC from different species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1009765
JournalPLoS pathogens
Issue numberJuly
StatePublished - Jul 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Virology


Dive into the research topics of 'Efficient interspecies transmission of synthetic prions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this