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Parasite Immunol. 2013 Apr 4. doi: 10.1111/pim.12036. [Epub ahead of print]

Wild rodents as a model to discover genes and pathways underlying natural variation in infectious disease susceptibility.

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  • 1Institute of Integrative Biology, University of Liverpool, Crown Street, Liverpool, L69 7ZB.


Individuals vary in their susceptibility to infectious disease and it is now well established that host genetic factors form a major component of this variation. The discovery of genes underlying susceptibility has the potential to lead to improved disease control, through the identification and management of vulnerable individuals and the discovery of novel therapeutic targets. Laboratory rodents have proved invaluable for ascertaining the function of genes involved in immunity to infection. However, these captive animals experience conditions very different to the natural environment, lacking the genetic diversity and environmental pressures characteristic of natural populations, including those of humans. It has therefore often proved difficult to translate basic laboratory research to the real world. In order to further our understanding of the genetic basis of infectious disease resistance, and the evolutionary forces that drive variation in susceptibility, we propose that genetic research traditionally conducted on laboratory animals is expanded to the more ecologically valid arena of natural populations. In this article we highlight the potential of using wild rodents as a new resource for biomedical research, to link the functional genetic knowledge gained from laboratory rodents with the variation in infectious disease susceptibility observed in humans and other natural populations. © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

© 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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