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Keywords:

  • bison;
  • brucellosis;
  • natural resistance;
  • PRNP

Summary

The implication that host cellular prion protein (PrPC) may function as a cell surface receptor and/or portal protein for Brucella abortus in mice prompted an evaluation of nucleotide and amino acid variation within exon 3 of the prion protein gene (PRNP) for six US bison populations. A non-synonymous single nucleotide polymorphism (T50C), resulting in the predicted amino acid replacement M17T (Met[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]Thr), was identified in each population. To date, no variation (T50; Met) has been detected at the corresponding exon 3 nucleotide and/or amino acid position for domestic cattle. Notably, 80% (20 of 25) of the Yellowstone National Park bison possessing the C/C genotype were Brucella spp. seropositive, representing a significant (P = 0.021) association between seropositivity and the C/C genotypic class. Moreover, significant differences in the distribution of PRNP exon 3 alleles and genotypes were detected between Yellowstone National Park bison and three bison populations that were either founded from seronegative stock or previously subjected to test-and-slaughter management to eradicate brucellosis. Unlike domestic cattle, no indel polymorphisms were detected within the corresponding regions of the putative bison PRNP promoter, intron 1, octapeptide repeat region or 3′-untranslated region for any population examined. This study provides the first evidence of a potential association between nucleotide variation within PRNP exon 3 and the presence of Brucella spp. antibodies in bison, implicating PrPC in the natural resistance of bison to brucellosis infection.