PrPC is a host protein anchored to the outer surface of neurons and to a lesser extent of lymphocytes and other cells. The transmissible agent (prion) responsible for scrapie is believed to be a modified form of PrPC. Mice homozygous for disrupted PrP genes have been generated. Surprisingly, they develop and behave normally for at least seven months, and no immunological defects are apparent. It is now feasible to determine whether mice devoid of PrPC can propagate prions and are susceptible to scrapie pathogenesis.
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