Role of PRNP codon 129 genotype in defining strain transmission properties of human transmissible spongiform encephalopathy
Bishop, Matthew T.
The human prion protein (PrP) gene (PRNP) codon 129 (M/V) polymorphism is a susceptibility factor for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) and a major determinant of clinico-pathological phenotype in sporadic CJD. The role of codon 129 in defining susceptibility and strain transmission properties has been investigated in three lines of transgenic mice that express human PrP. The human PRNP gene has directly replaced the murine version, by gene targeting, and variation at codon 129 has given the three genotype lines (HuMM, HuMV, and HuVV). The genetics of these three mouse lines are otherwise identical, and therefore differences in transmission properties can be directly attributable to the codon 129 genotype. vCJD inoculation has shown that all three codon 129 genotype mice are susceptible with a ranking of transmission efficiency of HuMM>HuMV>HuVV. HuMM mice develop the most widespread neuropathology with features similar to human vCJD. Subclinical infection was noted in each mouse line. These data suggest that the vCJD strain is transmissible to humans of each of the three codon 129 genotypes, implying that non-MM cases of human infection with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) may exist but with long subclinical incubation periods. Inoculation of material from blood transfusion associated vCJD showed no change in transmission properties suggesting that the threat of a future epidemic of human-to-human vCJD infection has not been increased by adaptation of the vCJD strain. However the route of infection, for example via blood transfusion or surgery, may be more efficient that the original oral route of BSE infection. sCJD is classified into six subgroups according to clinico-pathological features, and defined by codon 129 genotype and electrophoretic mobility type (1 or 2) of disease associated PrPSc (MM1, MM2, MV1, MV2, VV1, VV2). Typical cases from each subgroup have shown specific transmission properties suggesting that the subgrouping is defining separate disease strains. The commonest subgroup (MM1) was the most transmissible and the HuVV mouse line the most susceptible host. These data outline the transmission risk from all sCJD types to recipients of each codon 129 genotype should an infection event occur, and show the significant role of recipient codon 129 genotype in defining the clinical or subclinical state and the success or failure of transmission. This is important for determining individual risk following known exposure, and for modelling the potential of iatrogenic infection from sCJD patients.