Genetic control of scrapie and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in mice

D. T. Kingsbury, K. C. Kasper, D. P. Stites, J. D. Watson, R. N. Hogan, S. B. Prusiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Genetic control of experimental scrapie and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) was studied in inbred strains of mice by measuring the times from intracerebral inoculation with the agents to the onset of neurological dysfunction. Every strain of mice examined was susceptible to infection; however, a wide range of incubation times was found for both scrapie and CJD. New Zealand (NZ) mice, which eventually develop an autoimmune disorder, were inoculated intracerebrally with 106 ID50 units of the scrapie agent in a Chandler isolate. NZW mice showed incubation periods of <95 days; this is the shortest period recorded for any murine host with scrapie. In NZB and NZB x W F1 mice, the incubation periods were ~ 130 days and were similar to those in BALB/c and C57BL mice. Male and female NZ mice exhibited scrapie incubation periods of the same length. Similar results were obtained when B10.Q and C57BL/6J mice were inoculated intracerebrally with 104 ID50 units of the CJD agent in a K.Fu. isolate. These observations define a genetic locus or loci controlling the length of scrapie and CJD incubation periods; alleles coding for longer incubation times appear to be autosomal dominant. When congenic mice with a C57BL/10J background differing only in their H-2 haplotypes were studied, the results showed that the D subregion of the H-2 complex played a central role in controlling the length of the CJD incubation period. The q allele at the D subregion resulted in shorter incubation times, whereas the d allele resulted in long incubation times. The p, s, b, and k alleles gave intermediate incubation times. We propose the symbol PID-1 for designating this genetic locus which is located within the D subregion of the major histocompatibility (H-2) complex on murine chromosome 17. In addition, observations on congenic mice provide evidence for the influence of sex on CJD incubation periods. In some strains of inbred mice, males showed significantly shorter incubation periods compared with those for females with experimental CJD. These studies with inbred mice have defined previously unrecognized genes that control the length of scrapie and CJD incubation periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-496
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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