Incongruity between prion conversion and incubation period following coinfection

Katie A. Langenfeld, Ronald A. Shikiya, Anthony E. Kincaid, Jason C. Bartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


When multiple prion strains are inoculated into the same host, they can interfere with each other. Strains with long incubation periods can suppress conversion of strains with short incubation periods; however, nothing is known about the conversion of the long-incubation-period strain during strain interference. To investigate this, we inoculated hamsters in the sciatic nerve with long-incubation-period strain 139H prior to superinfection with the short-incubation-period hyper (HY) strain of transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME). First, we found that 139H is transported along the same neuroanatomical tracks as HY TME, adding to the growing body of evidence indicating that PrPSc favors retrograde transneuronal transport. In contrast to a previous report, we found that 139H interferes with HY TME infection, which is likely due to both strains targeting the same population of neurons following sciatic nerve inoculation. Under conditions where 139H blocked HY TME from causing disease, the strainspecific properties of PrPSc corresponded with the strain that caused disease, consistent with our previous findings. In the groups of animals where incubation periods were not altered, we found that the animals contained a mixture of 139H and HY TME PrPSc. This finding expands the definition of strain interference to include conditions where PrPSc formation is altered yet disease outcome is unaltered. Overall, these results contradict the premise that prion strains are static entities and instead suggest that strain mixtures are dynamic regardless of incubation period or clinical outcome of disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5715-5723
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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