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


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Published in PLoS One (2010) e12786. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0012786


Background: Classical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is an acquired prion disease of cattle. The bovine prion gene (PRNP) contains regions of both high and low linkage disequilibrium (LD) that appear to be conserved across Bos taurus populations. The region of high LD, which spans the promoter and part of intron 2, contains polymorphic loci that have been associated with classical BSE status. However, the complex genetic architecture of PRNP has not been systematically tested for an association with classical BSE.

Methodology/Principal Findings: In this study, haplotype tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (htSNPs) within PRNP were used to test for association between PRNP haplotypes and BSE disease. A combination of Illumina goldengate assay, sequencing and PCR amplification was used to genotype 18 htSNPs and 2 indels in 95 BSE case and 134 control animals. A haplotype within the region of high LD was found to be associated with BSE unaffected animals (p-value = 0.000114).

Conclusion/Significance: A PRNP haplotype association with classical BSE incidence has been identified. This result suggests that a genetic determinant in or near PRNP may influence classical BSE incidence in cattle.