Location: Avian Disease and Oncology Research
Project Number: 6040-31320-009-18-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Jan 21, 2014
End Date: Jul 31, 2016
Marek’s disease (MD), a lymphoproliferative disease of chickens caused by the highly pathogenic Marek’s disease virus (MDV) is the most serious chronic disease problem that costs the worldwide poultry industry $1-2 billion per year. Despite control measures including biosecurity and MD vaccines, new and more virulent MDV strains have and are predicted to arise in the future resulting in disease outbreaks. Thus, there is a critical need to improve existing measures or provide alternatives. We aim to identify genetic determinants that are associated with genetic resistance to MD.
Combining our expertise in cytogenetics, molecular genetics, and bioinformatics, we first address the question of whether MD vaccines or genetic resistance status of the chicken alters the spectrum of MDV integration sites in the chicken genome, which we have recently shown to occur early and is part of the natural life-cycle of both pathogenic and avirulent MDV strains. We predict that there will be a host genotype by MD vaccine serotype interaction, which will provide valuable information on how the mechanisms of MD vaccines and MD genetic resistance interact. Second, we address whether genomic alterations are necessary for MDV-induced transformation. Using custom SNP chips and next generation sequencing, we will determine if MD tumors exhibit loss of heterozygosity (LOH), copy number variation (CNV), or other alterations in the chicken genome. We will also determine whether MDV integrates directly into the telomeres or only near them in specific regions.