• anonymous
What is the microorganism that cause mad cow diesease? and is it really a microorganism?
  • Stacey Warren - Expert
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  • schrodinger
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  • anonymous
Abnormal proteins called prions are found in brain tissue of diseased cattle and appear to be the particle that transmits the infection. I think this might be what you mean.
  • anonymous
This is a very interesting question and provides a great opportunity to learn to use PubMed. This is the online literature base that is the gold standard for scientific literature related to medicine and its may subsubjects. Go to PubMed, search 'madcow disease' then review/causation or etiology.
  • blues
The two answers given are pretty much right: the 'infectious agent' in mad cow disease is a type of protein called a prion. Prions are actually normal proteins, misfolded. The protein in its native form is PcP(c) while the protein in its mutant form is called PcP(Sc). When a misfolded PcP(Sc) copy contacts a normally folded PcP(c) copy, it induces the normally folded protein to adopt the misfolded conformation. This happens over and over again; the misfolded proteins all associate with one another to form a growing chain or aggregate. Although it is unclear how this process causes the disease - some people suggest that it is depletion of the normal protein, other people suggest that it is the presence of these aggregates of misfolded proteins which gum up the cell's inner workings.

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