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Uptake and Dynamics of Infectious Prion Protein in the Intestine

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Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are characterized by the accumulation of a proteaseresistant abnormal isoform of the prion protein (PrPSc), which is converted from the cellular isoform of the prion protein (PrPC). In the oral transmission of prion protein, PrPSc can invade a host body through the intestinal tract. There is only limited information available on how the infectious agent passes through one or several biological barriers before it can finally reach the brain. After oral administration, PrPSc withstands the digestive process and may be incorporated by microfold (M) cells or villous columnar epithelial cells in the intestine. After entry into the intestinal epithelium, PrPSc accumulates and is amplified in follicular dendritic cells (FDCs) within Peyer's patches and other isolated lymphoid follicles possibly by an interaction with dendritic cells or macrophages. Following accumulation in gut-associated lymphoid tissues, PrPSc is thought to move to the enteric nervous systems (ENS) by an interaction with FDCs or dendritic cells. As a result of neuroinvasion into the ENS, PrPSc spreads to the central nervous system. In addition, an epidemiological study suggested that most bovine spongiform encephalopathy cases had been exposed to the agent in the first 6 months of life. Developments of the intestinal defense and immune system may be involved in the susceptibility to infection.

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Keywords: GALT; M cells; intestinal epithelium; peripheral nervous system; prion protein

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 March 2009

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  • Protein & Peptide Letters publishes short papers in all important aspects of protein and peptide research, including structural studies, recombinant expression, function, synthesis, enzymology, immunology, molecular modeling, drug design etc. Manuscripts must have a significant element of novelty, timeliness and urgency that merit rapid publication. Reports of crystallisation, and preliminary structure determinations of biologically important proteins are acceptable. Purely theoretical papers are also acceptable provided they provide new insight into the principles of protein/peptide structure and function.
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