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J Virol. 2011 Dec;85(24):13174-84. doi: 10.1128/JVI.06068-11. Epub 2011 Oct 12.

Genome-wide association study among four horse breeds identifies a common haplotype associated with in vitro CD3+ T cell susceptibility/resistance to equine arteritis virus infection.

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  • 1Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546-0099, USA.


Previously, we have shown that horses could be divided into susceptible and resistant groups based on an in vitro assay using dual-color flow cytometric analysis of CD3+ T cells infected with equine arteritis virus (EAV). Here, we demonstrate that the differences in in vitro susceptibility of equine CD3+ T lymphocytes to EAV infection have a genetic basis. To investigate the possible hereditary basis for this trait, we conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) to compare susceptible and resistant phenotypes. Testing of 267 DNA samples from four horse breeds that had a susceptible or a resistant CD3+ T lymphocyte phenotype using both Illumina Equine SNP50 BeadChip and Sequenom's MassARRAY system identified a common, genetically dominant haplotype associated with the susceptible phenotype in a region of equine chromosome 11 (ECA11), positions 49572804 to 49643932. The presence of a common haplotype indicates that the trait occurred in a common ancestor of all four breeds, suggesting that it may be segregated among other modern horse breeds. Biological pathway analysis revealed several cellular genes within this region of ECA11 encoding proteins associated with virus attachment and entry, cytoskeletal organization, and NF-κB pathways that may be associated with the trait responsible for the in vitro susceptibility/resistance of CD3+ T lymphocytes to EAV infection. The data presented in this study demonstrated a strong association of genetic markers with the trait, representing de facto proof that the trait is under genetic control. To our knowledge, this is the first GWAS of an equine infectious disease and the first GWAS of equine viral arteritis.

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