Haley, N.; Donner, R.; Merrett, K.; Miller, M.; Senior, K. Selective Breeding for Disease-Resistant PRNP Variants to Manage Chronic Wasting Disease in Farmed Whitetail Deer. Genes2021, 12, 1396.
Haley, N.; Donner, R.; Merrett, K.; Miller, M.; Senior, K. Selective Breeding for Disease-Resistant PRNP Variants to Manage Chronic Wasting Disease in Farmed Whitetail Deer. Genes 2021, 12, 1396.
Chronic wasting disease is a fatal transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) of cervids caused by a misfolded variant of the normal cellular prion protein, and is closely related to sheep scrapie. Variations in a host’s prion gene, PRNP, and its primary protein structure, dramatically affect susceptibility to specific prion disorders, and breeding for PRNP variants that prevent scrapie infection has led to steep declines in the disease in North American and European sheep. While resistant alleles have been identified in cervids, a PRNP variant that completely prevents CWD has not yet been identified. Thus, control of the disease in farmed herds traditionally relies on quarantine and depopulation. In CWD-endemic areas, depopulation of private herds becomes challenging to justify, leading to opportunities to manage the disease in situ. In the present study, we developed a selective breeding program for farmed white-tailed deer in a CWD-endemic area, focused on reducing frequencies of highly susceptible PRNP variants and introducing animals with less-susceptible variants into historically high prevalence areas. We found that breeding followed predictable Mendelian inheritance, and early data support our project’s utility in reducing CWD prevalence. This project represents a novel approach to CWD management, with future efforts building on these findings.
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