The cellular isoform of the prion protein (PrPc) is a glycosylphosphatidylinositol-anchored glycoprotein, normally expressed in neural and non-neural tissues, including skeletal muscle. In transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, or prion diseases, PrPc, which is soluble in nondenaturing detergent and sensitive to proteinase K (PK)-treatment, represents the molecular substrate for the production of a detergent-insoluble and PK-resistant isoform, termed PrP(Sc). In human prion diseases, PrP(Sc) accumulation occurs only in brain tissues, with the exception of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, where PrP(Sc) is also detected in lymphoid tissues. Increased amounts of prion protein expression and deposition have been described in pathological muscle fibers of two human muscle disorders, called sporadic inclusion-body myositis (s-IBM) and hereditary inclusion-body myopathy, but it is unknown whether accumulated prion protein reflects normal PrPc or PrP(Sc). We investigated the biochemical characteristics of prion protein in normal human muscle, s-IBM, other inflammatory myopathies and denervation atrophy. We report that 1) both the glycoform profile and size of the normal muscle PrPc are different from those of human brain PrPc; 2) in addition to s-IBM, increased PrPc expression is seen in polymyositis, dermatomyositis and neurogenic muscle atrophy, but PrPc glycoforms are unchanged; 3) only the normal PrPc isoform, and not PrP(Sc), is detected in s-IBM. The present results exclude that s-IBM is a prion disease.
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