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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32578. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032578. Epub 2012 Mar 2.

Meta-analysis of two genome-wide association studies of bovine paratuberculosis.

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  • 1Parco Tecnologico Padano, Lodi, Italy.



Bovine paratuberculosis (ParaTB) also known as Johne's disease, is a contagious fatal disease resulting from infection by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). Previous studies have identified loci associated with ParaTB using different measurements to define cases and controls. The objective of this study was to combine the data from two recent studies to identify genetic loci associated with MAP tissue infection and humoral immune response, defined by MAP ELISA-positive cattle, by comparing cases and control animals for one or both measures of infection.


The two populations used for the association analyses were a cohort of MAP tissue infected animals and control Holstein cows from the USA and the second cohort composed of ELISA-positive and ELISA-negative Holstein cows from Italy. Altogether 1190 cattle were genotyped with the Illumina BovineSNP50 BeadChip. SNP markers were removed if the minor allele frequency <0.01 or genotyping failure was >5%. Animals were removed with >5% genotyping failure. Whole genome association analyses were conducted with the GRAMMAR-CG method using two different definitions of control populations.


The analyses identified several loci (P<5 e-05) associated with ParaTB, defined by positive ELISA and presence of bacteria in tissue compared to ELISA and tissue negative animals, on chromosomes 1, 12 and 15 and one unassigned SNP. These results confirmed associations on chromosome 12 and the unassigned SNP with ParaTB which had been found in the Italian population alone. Furthermore, several additional genomic regions were found associated with ParaTB when ELISA and tissue positive animals were compared with tissue negative samples. These loci were on chromosomes 1, 6, 7, 13, 16, 21,23 and 25 (P<5 e-05). The results clearly indicate the importance of the phenotype definition when seeking to identify markers associated with different disease responses.

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