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J Vet Sci. 2009 Jun;10(2):115-20.

Genetic variability of the prion protein gene (PRNP) in wild ruminants from Italy and Scotland.

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Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Piemonte, Turin, Italy.


The genetics of the prion protein gene (PRNP) play a crucial role in determining the relative susceptibility to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) in several mammalian species. To determine the PRNP gene variability in European red deer (Cervus elaphus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra), the PRNP open reading frame from 715 samples was analysed to reveal a total of ten single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). In red deer, SNPs were found in codons 15, 21, 59, 78, 79, 98, 136, 168 and 226. These polymorphisms give rise to 12 haplotypes, and one of which is identical to the PRNP of American wapiti (Rocky Mountain elk, Cervus elaphus nelsoni). One silent mutation at codon 119 was detected in chamois and no SNPs were found in roe deer. This analysis confirmed that European wild ruminants have a PRNP genetic background that is compatible with TSE susceptibility, including chronic wasting disease.

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