Molecular ecology and hierarchical models elucidate chronic wasting disease dynamics
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Prions present a unique evolutionary scenario because a single gene codes for both a disease agent and a functionally constrained native protein. The prion precursor gene, Prnp, codes for the prion precursor protein, PrP, which is constitutively expressed as a native isoform within all mammals. Upon misfolding to the disease isoform, known as prions, the same protein causes fatal neurodegenerative diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. We review the literature and available data for the genetics of Prnp in order to examine its molecular evolutionaryhistory, and the likely ...