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Open Access Research article

Characterization of the genomic region containing the Shadow of Prion Protein (SPRN) gene in sheep

Evelyne Lampo1, Mario Van Poucke1, Karine Hugot2, Hélène Hayes3, Alex Van Zeveren1 and Luc J Peelman1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nutrition, Genetics and Ethology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, B-9820 Merelbeke, Belgium

2 CRB GADIE, INRA, DGA, Laboratoire de Radiobiologie et d'Etude du Genome, INRA Jouy-en-Josas, F-78352 France ; 1CEA, DSV, DRR, Laboratoire de Radiobiologie et d'Etude du Genome, INRA Jouy-en-Josas, F-78352 France

3 UR 339 Unité de Génétique biochimique et Cytogénétique, INRA Jouy-en-Josas, F-78352 France

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:138  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-138

Published: 30 May 2007



TSEs are a group of fatal neurodegenerative diseases occurring in man and animals. They are caused by prions, alternatively folded forms of the endogenous prion protein, encoded by PRNP. Since differences in the sequence of PRNP can not explain all variation in TSE susceptibility, there is growing interest in other genes that might have an influence on this susceptibility. One of these genes is SPRN, a gene coding for a protein showing remarkable similarities with the prion protein. Until now, SPRN has not been described in sheep, a highly relevant species in prion matters.


In order to characterize the genomic region containing SPRN in sheep, a BAC mini-contig was built, covering approximately 200,000 bp and containing the genes ECHS1, PAOX, MTG1, SPRN, LOC619207, CYP2E1 and at least partially SYCE1. FISH mapping of the two most exterior BAC clones of the contig positioned this contig on Oari22q24. A fragment of 4,544 bp was also sequenced, covering the entire SPRN gene and 1206 bp of the promoter region. In addition, the transcription profile of SPRN in 21 tissues was determined by RT-PCR, showing high levels in cerebrum and cerebellum, and low levels in testis, lymph node, jejunum, ileum, colon and rectum.


Annotation of a mini-contig including SPRN suggests conserved linkage between Oari22q24 and Hsap10q26. The ovine SPRN sequence, described for the first time, shows a high level of homology with the bovine, and to a lesser extent with the human SPRN sequence. In addition, transcription profiling in sheep reveals main expression of SPRN in brain tissue, as in rat, cow, man and mouse.