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Identifying Variation In U.S. Bovine Prion Gene

14 May 2007

US - Do genes affect bovine spongiform encephalopathy - also known as BSE, or “mad cow” disease? Are some cattle more susceptible than others?
To address these and other questions, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Neb., have sequenced the bovine prion gene (PRNP) in 192 cattle that represent 16 beef and five dairy breeds common in the United States.

This work, partially funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, is expanding the understanding of how the disease works.

BSE is a fatal neurological disorder characterized by prions - proteins that occur naturally in mammals - that fold irregularly. Molecular biologist Mike Clawson and his Clay Center colleagues are examining PRNP variation in order to learn if and how prions correlate with BSE susceptibility.

From the 192 PRNP sequences, Clawson and his colleagues have identified 388 variations, or polymorphisms, 287 of which were previously unknown. Some of these polymorphisms may influence BSE susceptibility in cattle.

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Source: Minnesota Farm Guide


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