Virology, Nebraska Center for


Date of this Version

January 2007


Published in JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY, Jan. 2007, p. 689–697 Vol. 81, No. 2. Copyright © 2007, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


When two prion strains infect a single host, one strain can interfere with the ability of the other to cause disease but it is not known whether prion replication of the second strain is also diminished. To further investigate strain interference, we infected hamsters in the sciatic nerve with the long-incubation-period transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME) agent DY TME prior to superinfection of hamsters with the short-incubation-period HY TME agent. Increases in the interval between TME agent inoculations resulted in an extension of the incubation period of HY TME or a complete block of the ability of the HY TME agent to cause disease. The sciatic nerve route of inoculation gave the two TME strains access to the same population of neurons, allowing for the potential of prion interference in the lumbar spinal cord. The ability of the DY TME agent to extend the incubation period of HY TME corresponds with detection of DY TME PrPSc, the abnormal isoform of the prion protein, in the lumbar spinal cord. The increased incubation period of HY TME or the inability of the HY TME agent to cause disease in the coinfected animals corresponds with a reduction in the abundance of HY TME PrPSc in the lumbar spinal cord. When the two strains were not directed to the same populations of neurons within the lumbar spinal cord, interference between HY TME and DY TME did not occur. This suggests that DY TME agent replication interferes with HY TME agent replication when the two strains infect a common population of neurons.

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