BSE Heat Resistance

Oladele A. OGUNSEITAN oaogunse at UCI.EDU
Thu Mar 28 14:08:59 EST 1996

	You may find answers to your questions if you read up on Stanley 
Prusiner's (UC-Berkeley) work over the past 30 years or so on prions.  He 
answered many of these question through work on the sheep variety of 
prion that has been around for a long time.  Many people still cling to 
the unproven idea that a nucleic acid is somehow involved in the 
stability of the apparent protein.

Dele Ogunseitan

University of California
Irvine 92717-5150

On 28 Mar 1996, Nicholas Landau wrote:

> I am a microbial ecologist, but this BES/CJS connection has caught
> my attention, just like everybody else.
> I have noticed postings from UK microbiologists attesting to the
> great heat resistance of the BSE infective agent.  I have two
> questions about this.
> 1)  Is there any hyposthesis as to how a protein, such as the BSE
> prion, could retain its secondary and tertiary structure?  Secondary
> structure is generally determined by hydrogen bonds, which are broken
> at around 100 C in most substances.  How is it that BSE can retain its
> functionality after exposure to normally denaturing temperatures?
> Does it have a high cystein content?
> 2)  Given that the symptoms of BSE take many years after infection
> to manifest themselves, how is the virulence of the infective agent
> determined after such treatment?  Have the experiments been going on
> for years and decades, or is some criterion other than the causation
> of symptoms in test subjects used to determine virulence?
> Oh, yeah: one more question not involving thermostability....
> 3)  From the postings I have seen, it looks as if the infective
> agent has not been isolated and identified (some people say it is
> a virus, others a prion.)  This being the case, how is it that
> the British government can conclude that CJS is being caused by
> the same infectious agent as BSE?
> Thank you for responding.
> Nick Landau
> Dept. Biochemistry and Microbiology
> Rutgers University
> nlandau at eden.rutgers.edu

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