Influence of prion strain on prion protein adsorption to soil in a competitive matrix

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


It is likely that the soil environment serves as a stable reservoir of infectious chronic wasting disease (CWD) and scrapie prions,aswellasapotential reservoir of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or "mad cow" disease). Prion adsorption to soil may play an important role in prion mobility, proteolysis, and infectivity. Differences in PrP environmental fate are possible due to the strain- and species-dependent structure of PrPSc. Kinetic and isothermal studies of PrP adsorption to sand and two whole soils were conducted using HY and DY TME-infected hamster, uninfected hamster, and CWD-infected elk brain homogenates as competitive PrP sources. The role of the N-terminus in PrP adsorption was also investigated. We report strain and species differences in PrP adsorption to soil over time and as a function of aqueous concentration, indicating that the fate of prions in the environment may vary with the prion strain and species infected. Our data also provide evidence that the N-terminal region of PrP enhances adsorption to clay but may hinder adsorption to sand. PrP adsorption was maximal at an intermediate aqueous concentration, most likely due to the competitive brain homogenate matrix in which it enters the soil environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5242-5248
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 15 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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