Primary cultures of the brain from sheep embryos were used to establish cell lines after transfection by the simian virus 40 (SV40) large T gene. Two of the lines (A15 and 4A6) displayed astroglial properties. They expressed the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), intermediate filament protein vimentin, and S-100 (beta-subunit) protein. While numerous rodent and human glial cell lines are available, this is to our knowledge the first description of ovine cell lines with astrocyte features. In addition, these cell lines were derived from sheep embryos chosen for their genetic susceptibility to scrapie (PrP genotype: VV136, QQ171). Therefore, they could be attractive tissue culture models for the study of propagation and pathogenesis of the scrapie agent ex vivo.
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Vol. 36 • No. 1