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Title: Role of the major histocompatibility complex in immune responsiveness in a Holstein Charolais cattle cross population
Author: Baxter, Rebecca Jayne
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2011
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Infectious disease is a major issue facing the livestock industry. Further understanding of the role of genetic factors in the observed phenotypic variability of the immune response to pathogens and vaccination could assist in designing improved preventative measures such as more efficacious vaccines and targeted breeding strategies to select for disease resistance. Major candidate genes for controlling immune responsiveness are located within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). The highly polymorphic classical MHC genes are key determinants in the strength and type of immune response. However, it has proved difficult to establish genotyping approaches to define functionally relevant allelic variations for outbred species such as cattle, not least because the peptide binding clefts (PBC) of classical MHC molecules are highly polymorphic, and the genes within the MHC complex are closely linked. The overall aim of this project was to investigate the role of MHC genes in immune responsiveness in approximately 200 F2 and backcross Holstein-Charolais cattle. These animals were generated as part of the Roslin Bovine Genome (RoBoGen) herd, established through a quantitative trait loci (QTL) project, in which a number of phenotypic traits including immune traits were measured. The immune traits included responses to a Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) peptide, and vaccines against bovine respiratory syncytial virus (BRSV), para-influenza virus 3 (PIV-3) and bovine herpes virus-1 (BHV-1), as well as T cell response to Staphylococcus aureus. The immune phenotypes measured included IgG and interferon- (IFN- ) levels and T cell proliferation. The cattle MHC region, known as bovine leukocyte antigens (BoLA), resides on bovine chromosome 23. The BoLA region contains approximately 200 genes most of which are immune-related. Class II gene polymorphisms were considered to be the most likely to influence the immune traits measured, and the project primarily focused on the best defined gene, BoLA-DRB3. A sequence-based typing technique was successfully improved to facilitate genotyping of the PBC of BoLA-DRB3 in all generations of the RoBoGen herd (approximately 400 animals) and identified 24 distinct alleles. The sequence information obtained also enabled further analysis of the role of defined ‘pockets’ within the PBC, which directly determine peptide binding affinity. All datasets were statistically analysed using a residual maximum likelihood (REML) model and it was shown that several of the DRB3 alleles within the RoBoGen herd had highly significant (p<0.05) associations with the immune response to the FMDV peptide. In addition DRB3 alleles were identified which had significant associations with the response to the respiratory pathogen vaccinations and exposure to S. aureus. The pocket analysis also enabled the identification of several amino acid positions within the PBC which were significantly associated with the immune response traits. In order to explore whether DQ Class II gene polymorphisms also played a role in the variability of responses and whether BoLA Class I-Class II haplotypes could be discerned, microarrays which utilized allele specific oligonucleotides for BoLA Class I and Class II DQ genes were employed. In addition, to investigate whether the number of DQ gene pairs per chromosome influenced the responses, a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay to determine DQA gene dosage was developed. However, due to the extremely complex nature of the BoLA region both, techniques would require improving to be used for large-scale studies. Nonetheless, information about haplotypes was determined from the microarray results and the qPCR technique lays the foundations for future development to investigate DQ gene dosage. The MHC region in cattle is very complex due the high level of polymorphisms and gene duplications. It is likely that many genes play a role in the immune response to both pathogens and vaccines. However, from the evidence presented here, polymorphisms in the PBC of BoLA-DRB3, particularly within the pockets, are significantly associated with variation in immune response to many different antigens and this information could be exploited in the design of vaccines or breeding cattle for improved disease resistance.
Supervisor: Glass, Liz. ; Haley, Chris. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: MHC ; major histocompatibility complex ; cattle ; immune response