The pathogenesis of scrapie, and of neurodegenerative diseases in general, is still insufficiently understood and is therefore being intensely researched. There is abundant evidence that the activation of glial cells precedes neurodegeneration and may thus play an important role in disease development and progression. The identification of genes with altered expression patterns in the diseased brain may provide insight on the molecular level into the process which ultimately leads to neuronal loss. Differentially expressed genes in scrapie-infected brain tissue were enriched by the suppression subtractive hybridization technique, molecularly cloned, and further characterized. Northern blotting and nucleotide sequencing confirmed the identities of 19 upregulated genes, 11 of which were unknown to be affected by scrapie. A considerable number of these 19 genes, namely those encoding interferon-inducible protein 10 (IP-10), 2′,5′-oligo(A) synthetase, Mx protein, IIGP protein, major histocompatibility complex classes I and II, complement, and β2-microglobulin, were inducible by interferons (IFNs), suggesting that an IFN response is a possible mechanism of gene activation in scrapie. Among the newly found genes, that coding for 2′,5′-oligo(A) synthetase is of special interest because it could contribute to the apoptotic loss of neuronal cells via RNase L activation. In addition, upregulation of the chemokine IP-10 and B-lymphocyte chemoattractant mRNAs was seen at relatively early stages of the disease and was sustained throughout disease development
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