Identification of amino acid variation in the prion protein associated with classical scrapie in Canadian dairy goats
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BACKGROUND: A clear association of amino acid variation in the prion protein gene (PRNP) with susceptibility and resistance to classical scrapie exists in sheep, but not in goats. In this study we examined DNA sequence variation in the PRNP of 149 animals from two scrapie-infected herds of Saanen dairy goats, and identified 6 non-synonymous variants in the coding region. RESULTS: In the larger herd, all of the 54 scrapie-affected goats tested had at least one allele with the arginine (R) codon at position 211, with 52 being homozygous for that variant. No animal homozygous for the glutamine (Q) codon at 211 were affected and only two heterozygotes (R/Q) were affected. A weak association was found at position 146 and no significant associations were found with amino acid variation at the remaining four variant positions (142, 143, 222 and 240), however, the allelic variation was low. Similar patterns were observed in the second scrapie-affected herd. CONCLUSION: We also evaluated previous studies on goat herds affected with scrapie and this relationship of R susceptibility and Q resistance at 211 was present independent of the genotypes at the other positions including 222. The fact that glutamine at 211 provides a significant protective property to scrapie irrespective of the other positions could be important for breeding strategies aimed at improving herd resistance to scrapie, while maintaining important productivity traits.