Presenter: Elaine B. Brooks
Advisor(s): Dr. Matthew Koci
Author(s): Elaine B. Brooks, Matthew D. Koci, and Chris M. Ashwell
Graduate Program: Poultry Science

Title: The involvement of the Mx gene in avian response to influenza challenge

Abstract: Avian influenza outbreaks are a continuing concern for the poultry industry, having caused significant economic losses in the past. Recent outbreaks across the globe of new strains of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have had devastating effects on infected flocks and resulted in global awareness of the need to develop better techniques for disease prevention. Since such HPAI viruses may arise from mutations in low pathogenic avian influenza (LPAI) viruses, it is important to understand how to enhance the ability of poultry to overcome the LPAI infection before it mutates into a more destructive HPAI strain. One way to do this is to augment the poultry innate resistance to influenza. The Mx protein, in particular, has been shown to possess innate antiviral activity. Genetic variability of the Mx gene across chicken lines may reveal a sequence which confers greater influenza resistance. Genomic DNA from several lines of chickens was sequenced and found to have significant amino acid substitutions, which suggest possible functional differences among lines. Mx cDNA made from representative chicken lines was transfected into the fibroblast cell line, DF-1, and subsequently infected with the LPAI TK/WI/66 to assess variance in Mx antiviral activity. Such information may pave the way for genetic screening assays to select for poultry that are genetically predisposed to be less susceptible to avian influenza infection.