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Prion spread. Artwork of a theoretical basis for the spread of prions at a cellular level. Prions are abnormal proteins that are the cause of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), such as BSE in cows, scrapie in sheep and CJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) in humans. They cause fatal brain and nerve degeneration. A normal form of prion protein (tiny green balls, lower centre) is made with instructions from cell nuclei (brown, one at bottom right). The prions (pink balls, upper right) are a different shape of this normal prion protein, and cause the normal ones to flip to the abnormal shape. Spread may be by nerve cells (top left) & white blood cells (lower left).
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