Scrapie is a degenerative, transmissible neurologic disease of sheep and goats which occurs in the absence of any detectable host immune response. Antibodies to the scrapie agent have been produced after immunization of rabbits with either scrapie prions or the prion protein, PrP 27-30, purified from infected hamster brain. Immunoreactivity of the antisera was assessed by dot and Western immunoblots with purified prions and PrP 27-30. Antibodies raised against infectious prions were more immunoreactive with native than denatured preparations, whereas those raised against PrP 27-30 were more reactive with denatured prion preparations. As determined by second antibody-colloidal gold, both antisera were found to decorate scrapie prion rods in purified preparations. Antibodies to cellular filamentous proteins failed to react with PrP 27-30 or the scrapie prion rods; conversely, antibodies to PrP 27-30 did not exhibit immunoreactivity with cellular filamentous proteins. The monospecificity of the rabbit antiserum raised against PrP 27-30 was established by its reactivity after affinity purification. The purified antibodies reacted with PrP 27-30 on Western blots and with the prion rods. Considerable evidence indicates that the scrapie rods are aggregates of infectious prions; the findings presented here provide an immunologic demonstration that PrP 27-30 is a structural component of the prion rods.

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