U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


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Published in PLoS One (2008) 3(3): e1830. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0001830


Background: Atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathies (BSEs) are recently recognized prion diseases of cattle. Atypical BSEs are rare; approximately 30 cases have been identified worldwide. We tested prion gene (PRNP) haplotypes for an association with atypical BSE.

Methodology/Principle Findings: Haplotype tagging polymorphisms that characterize PRNP haplotypes from the promoter region through the three prime untranslated region of exon 3 (25.2 kb) were used to determine PRNP haplotypes of six available atypical BSE cases from Canada, France and the United States. One or two copies of a distinct PRNP haplotype were identified in five of the six cases (p = 1.36×10-4, two-tailed Fisher’s exact test; CI95% 0.263–0.901, difference between proportions). The haplotype spans a portion of PRNP that includes part of intron 2, the entire coding region of exon 3 and part of the three prime untranslated region of exon 3 (13 kb).

Conclusions/Significance: This result suggests that a genetic determinant in or near PRNP may influence susceptibility of cattle to atypical BSE.