Aguzzi and Weissmann in their News and Views feature1 correctly state that research on the molecular genetics of PrP protein has contributed greatly to our knowledge of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). But their firm belief that these diseases are caused by rogue proteins (‘prions’) leads them to misrepresent alternative hypotheses of the nature of the agent, dismissing all non-believers as “the die-hard pro-virus faction”1. In fact, the prion hypothesis is far from proven: the precise nature of a prion still eludes identification and the prion hypothesis has yet to explain satisfactorily the many strains of TSE2. The alternative ‘virino’ hypothesis is not a conventional virus hypothesis, but it addresses the diversity of biological properties of the TSEs2. It proposes an agent-specific replicable informational molecule, yet to be identified, bound to a protective host protein, PrP.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Aguzzi, A. & Weissmann, C. Nature 389, 795–798 (1997).
Bruce, M. E., McConnell, I., Fraser, H. & Dickinson, A. G. J. Gen. Virol. 72, 595–603 (1991).
Farquhar, C. F., Dornan, J., Somerville, R. A., Tunstall, A. M. & Hope, J. J. Gen. Virol. 75, 495–504 (1994).
Bruce, M. E., McBride, P. A. & Farquhar, C. F. Neuroscience Lett. 102, 1–6 (1989).
Prusiner, S. B. Science 252, 1515–1522 (1991).
Prusiner, S. Science 278, 245–251 (1997).
Somerville, R. A. Rev. Med. Virol. 1, 131–139 (1991).
Moore, R. et al. (in the press).
Dickinson, A. G. & Meikle, V. M. Molec. Gen. Genetics 112, 73–79 (1971).
Dickinson, A. G. & Outram, G. W. in Slow transmissible diseases of the central nervous system (eds. Prusiner, S. B. & Hadlow, W. J.) 13-32 (Academic Press, New York, 1979).
Somerville, R. A.et al. Nature 386, 564 (1997).
Bruce, M. E.et al. Nature 389, 498–501 (1997).
Kimberlin, R. H. Nature 297, 107–108 (1982).
Anonymous. Lancet 1, 1221–1223 (1982).
Dickinson, A. G., Bruce, M. E., Outram, G. W. & Kimberlin, R. H. in Proc. Workshop on Slow Transmissible Diseases (ed. Tateishi, J.) pp105-118 (Japanese Ministry of Health & Welfare, Tokyo, 1984).
Rohwer, R. G. Nature 308, 658–662 (1984).
Kocisko, D. A.et al. Nature 370, 471–474 (1994).
Fraser, H. & Dickinson, A. G. Nature 226, 462–463 (1970).
Dickinson, A. G.et al. Nature 253, 556 (1975).
Bueler, H.et al. Cell 73, 1339–1347 (1993).
Prusiner, S. B.et al. Cell 63, 673–686 (1990).
About this article
Scientific Reports (2019)
International Journal of Cell Biology (2013)
Journal of Comparative Pathology (2012)
Characterization of the effect of heat on agent strains of the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies
Journal of General Virology (2011)