Wildlife Disease and Zoonotics


Date of this Version



Published in Genetics Selection Evolution 2009, 41:17


Selective breeding of sheep for arginine (R) at prion gene (PRNP) codon 171 confers resistance to classical scrapie. However, other effects of 171R selection are uncertain. Ovine progressive pneumonia/Maedi-Visna virus (OPPV) may infect up to 66% of a flock thus any affect of 171R selection on OPPV susceptibility or disease progression could have major impact on the sheep industry. Hypotheses that the PRNP 171R allele is 1) associated with the presence of OPPV provirus and 2) associated with higher provirus levels were tested in an Idaho ewe flock. OPPV provirus was found in 226 of 358 ewes by quantitative PCR. The frequency of ewes with detectable provirus did not differ significantly among the 171QQ, 171QR, and 171RR genotypes (p > 0.05). Also, OPPV provirus levels in infected ewes were not significantly different among codon 171 genotypes (p > 0.05). These results show that, in the flock examined, the presence of OPPV provirus and provirus levels are not related to the PRNP 171R allele. Therefore, a genetic approach to scrapie control is not expected to increase or decrease the number of OPPV infected sheep or the progression of disease. This study provides further support to the adoption of PRNP 171R selection as a scrapie control measure.