One hundred and sixty-seven sheep of 32 breeds and crossbreeds affected by natural scrapie throughout Britain were tested for the presence of restriction fragment length polymorphisms of the PrP gene observed when their DNA was digested with EcoRI or HindIII. These polymorphisms have already been associated with different susceptibilities to experimental scrapie (controlled by alleles of the Sip gene) in a flock of Cheviot sheep. In two studies 86 to 92 per cent of the sheep were found to carry the PrP gene EcoRI fragment e1 which is associated with high susceptibility (or the sA allele of Sip) to experimental scrapie. The PrP gene HindIII genotypes of the natural scrapie sheep were not apparently associated with differences in susceptibility to scrapie. There was no link between the polymorphisms and the age or breed of the affected sheep.
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