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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Immunologically induced, complement-dependent up-regulation of the prion protein in the mouse spleen: follicular dendritic cells versus capsule and trabeculae.

The expression of the prion protein (PrP) in the follicular dendritic cell network of germinal centers in the spleen is critical for the splenic propagation of the causative agent of prion diseases. However, a physiological role of the prion protein in the periphery remains elusive. To investigate the role and function of PrP expression in the lymphoid system we treated naive mice i.v. with preformed immune complexes or vesicular stomatitis virus. Immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis of the spleen revealed that 8 days after immunization, immune complexes and vesicular stomatitis virus had both induced a strong increase of PrP expression in the follicular dendritic cell network. Remarkably, this up-regulation did not occur in mice that lack an early factor of the complement cascade, C1q, a component which has been shown previously to facilitate early prion pathogenesis. In addition to the variable PrP level in the germinal centers, we detected steady and abundant PrP expression in the splenic capsule and trabeculae, which are structural elements that have not been associated before with PrP localization. The abundant trabeculo-capsular PrP expression was also evident in spleens of Rag-1-deficient mice, which have been shown before to be incapable of prion expansion. We conclude that trabeculocapsular PrP is not sufficient for splenic prion propagation. Furthermore, our observations may provide important clues for a physiological function of the prion protein and allow a new view on the role of complement and PrP in peripheral prion pathogenesis.[1]


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