The first European cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in free-ranging reindeer and wild elk were confirmed in Norway in 2016 highlighting the urgent need to understand transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) in the context of European deer species and the many individual populations throughout the European continent. The genetics of the prion protein gene (PRNP) are crucial in determining the relative susceptibility to TSEs. To establish PRNP gene sequence diversity for free-ranging ruminants in the Northeast of Spain, the open reading frame was sequenced in over 350 samples from five species: Iberian red deer (Cervus elaphus hispanicus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), fallow deer (Dama dama), Iberian wild goat (Capra pyrenaica hispanica) and Pyrenean chamois (Rupicapra p. pyrenaica). Three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were found in red deer: a silent mutation at codon 136, and amino acid changes T98A and Q226E. Pyrenean chamois revealed a silent SNP at codon 38 and an allele with a single octapeptide-repeat deletion. No polymorphisms were found in roe deer, fallow deer and Iberian wild goat. This apparently low variability of the PRNP coding region sequences of four major species in Spain resembles previous findings for wild mammals, but implies that larger surveys will be necessary to find novel, low frequency PRNP gene alleles that may be utilized in CWD risk control.
- Journal Article