Transgenic mice recapitulate the phenotypic heterogeneity of genetic prion diseases without developing prion infectivity: Role of intracellular PrP retention in neurotoxicity

Roberto Chiesa, Elena Restelli, Liliana Comerio, Federico Del Gallo, Luca Imeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Genetic prion diseases are degenerative brain disorders caused by mutations in the gene encoding the prion protein (PrP). Different PrP mutations cause different diseases, including Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker (GSS) syndrome and fatal familial insomnia (FFI). The reason for this variability is not known. It has been suggested that prion strains with unique self-replicating and neurotoxic properties emerge spontaneously in individuals carrying PrP mutations, dictating the phenotypic expression of disease. We generated transgenic mice expressing the FFI mutation, and found that they developed a fatal neurological illness highly reminiscent of FFI, and different from those of similarly generated mice modeling genetic CJD and GSS. Thus transgenic mice recapitulate the phenotypic differences seen in humans. The mutant PrPs expressed in these mice are misfolded but unable to self-replicate. They accumulate in different compartments of the neuronal secretory pathway, impairing the membrane delivery of ion channels essential for neuronal function. Our results indicate that conversion of mutant PrP into an infectious isoform is not required for pathogenesis, and suggest that the phenotypic variability may be due to different effects of mutant PrP on intracellular transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalPrion
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 3 2016

Keywords

  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Fatal familial insomnia
  • Genetic prion disease
  • Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome
  • Membrane trafficking
  • Protein misfolding
  • PrP
  • Sleep
  • Transgenic mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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