An enzymatic treatment of soil-bound prions effectively inhibits replication

Samuel E. Saunders, Jason C. Bartz, Kurt C. Vercauteren, Shannon L. Bartelt-Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Chronic wasting disease (CWD) and scrapie can be transmitted through indirect environmental routes, possibly via soil, and a practical decontamination strategy for prion-contaminated soil is currently unavailable. In the laboratory, an enzymatic treatment under environmentally relevant conditions (22°C, pH 7.4) can degrade soil-bound PrPSc below the limits of Western blot detection. We developed and used a quantitative serial protein misfolding cyclic amplification (PMCA) protocol to characterize the amplification efficiency of treated soil samples relative to controls of known infectious titer. Our results suggest large (104- to >106-fold) decreases in soil-bound prion infectivity following enzyme treatment, demonstrating that a mild enzymatic treatment could effectively reduce the risk of prion disease transmission via soil or other environmental surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4313-4317
Number of pages5
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Ecology


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