Experimental obstacles have impeded our ability to study prion transmission within and, more particularly, between species. Here, we used cervid prion protein expressed in brain extracts of transgenic mice, referred to as Tg(CerPrP), as a substrate for in vitro generation of chronic wasting disease (CWD) prions by protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA). Characterization of this infectivity in Tg(CerPrP) mice demonstrated that serial PMCA resulted in the high fidelity amplification of CWD prions with apparently unaltered properties. Using similar methods to amplify mouse RML prions and characterize the resulting novel cervid prions, we show that serial PMCA abrogated a transmission barrier that required several hundred days of adaptation and subsequent stabilization in Tg(CerPrP) mice. While both approaches produced cervid prions with characteristics distinct from CWD, the subtly different properties of the resulting individual prion isolates indicated that adaptation of mouse RML prions generated multiple strains following inter-species transmission. Our studies demonstrate that combined transgenic mouse and PMCA approaches not only expedite intra- and inter-species prion transmission, but also provide a facile means of generating and characterizing novel prion strains.

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Published in PLoS Pathogens, v. 4, no. 8, e1000139.

© 2008 Green et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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