Natural scrapie in British sheep: breeds, ages and PrP gene polymorphisms.
167 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 2 studies 86 to 92% 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.