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Animal Health


Resistance to classical scrapie in experimentally challenged goats carrying mutation K222 of the prion protein gene

 
Pier Luigi Acutis, Francesca Martucci, Antonio D'Angelo, Simone Peletto, Silvia Colussi, Cristiana Maurella, Chiara Porcario, Barbara Iulini, Maria Mazza, Luana Dell'Atti, Fabio Zuccon, Cristiano Corona, Nicola Martinelli, Cristina Casalone, Maria Caramelli and Guerino Lombardi
      
   
Susceptibility of sheep to scrapie, a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy of small ruminants, is strongly influenced by polymorphisms of the prion protein gene (PRNP). Breeding programs have been implemented to increase scrapie resistance in sheep populations; though desirable, a similar approach has not yet been applied in goats. European studies have now suggested that several polymorphisms can modulate scrapie susceptibility in goats: in particular, PRNP variant K222 has been associated with resistance in case-control studies in Italy, France and Greece.


In this study we investigated the resistance conferred by this variant using a natural Italian goat scrapie isolate to intracerebrally challenge five goats carrying genotype Q/Q 222 (wild type) and five goats carrying genotype Q/K 222. By the end of the study, all five Q/Q 222 goats had died of scrapie after a mean incubation period of 19 months; one of the five Q/K 222 goats died after 24 months, while the other four were alive and apparently healthy up to the end of the study at 4.5 years post-challenge. All five of these animals were found to be scrapie negative.


Statistical analysis showed that the probability of survival of the Q/K 222 goats versus the Q/Q 222 goats was significantly higher (p = 0.002). Our study shows that PRNP gene mutation K222 is strongly associated with resistance to classical scrapie also in experimental conditions, making it a potentially positive target for selection in the frame of breeding programs for resistance to classical scrapie in goats.

 


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Article made possible through the contribution of Pier Luigi Acutis, Francesca Martucci, Antonio D'Angelo, Simone Peletto, Silvia Colussi, Cristiana Maurella, Chiara Porcario, Barbara Iulini, Maria Mazza, Luana Dell'Atti, Fabio Zuccon, Cristiano Corona, Nicola Martinelli, Cristina Casalone, Maria Caramelli, Guerino Lombardi and BioMed Central.

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