Genes controlling vaccine responses and disease resistance to respiratory viral pathogens in cattle

Elizabeth J Glass, Rebecca Baxter, Richard J Leach, Oliver C Jann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Farm animals remain at risk of endemic, exotic and newly emerging viruses. Vaccination is often promoted as the best possible solution, and yet for many pathogens, either there are no appropriate vaccines or those that are available are far from ideal. A complementary approach to disease control may be to identify genes and chromosomal regions that underlie genetic variation in disease resistance and response to vaccination. However, identification of the causal polymorphisms is not straightforward as it generally requires large numbers of animals with linked phenotypes and genotypes. Investigation of genes underlying complex traits such as resistance or response to viral pathogens requires several genetic approaches including candidate genes deduced from knowledge about the cellular pathways leading to protection or pathology, or unbiased whole genome scans using markers spread across the genome. Evidence for host genetic variation exists for a number of viral diseases in cattle including bovine respiratory disease and anecdotally, foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV). We immunised and vaccinated a cattle cross herd with a 40-mer peptide derived from FMDV and a vaccine against bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV). Genetic variation has been quantified. A candidate gene approach has grouped high and low antibody and T cell responders by common motifs in the peptide binding pockets of the bovine major histocompatibility complex (BoLA) DRB3 gene. This suggests that vaccines with a minimal number of epitopes that are recognised by most cattle could be designed. Whole genome scans using microsatellite and single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers has revealed many novel quantitative trait loci (QTL) and SNP markers controlling both humoral and cell-mediated immunity, some of which are in genes of known immunological relevance including the toll-like receptors (TLRs). The sequencing, assembly and annotation of livestock genomes and is continuing apace. In addition, provision of high-density SNP chips should make it possible to link phenotypes with genotypes in field populations without the need for structured populations or pedigree information. This will hopefully enable fine mapping of QTL and ultimate identification of the causal gene(s). The research could lead to selection of animals that are more resistant to disease and new ways to improve vaccine efficacy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-9
Number of pages10
JournalVeterinary Immunology and Immunopathology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Event9th International Veterinary Immunology Symposium (9th IVIS) - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 16 Aug 201020 Aug 2010


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