Researchers produce virus-resistant pigs, could vastly improve global animal health

phys.org | 10/15/2018 | Staff
JimmyJoe (Posted by) Level 3
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Researchers at the University of Missouri have successfully produced a litter of pigs that are genetically resistant to a deadly porcine virus.

Coronaviruses, highly contagious and widespread viruses known for their distinctive microscopic halos, are responsible for a variety of deadly intestinal diseases in livestock. One such virus, Transmissible Gastroenteritis Virus (TGEV), commonly infects the intestines of pigs, causing almost 100 percent mortality in young pigs. Now, a team of researchers from MU, Kansas State University and Genus plc—a global leader in animal genetics— has succeeded in breeding pigs that are resistant to the virus by means of gene editing.

Research - Enzyme - ANPEP - Receptor - Virus

"Previous research had identified an enzyme called ANPEP as a potential receptor for the virus, meaning it could be an important factor in allowing the virus to take hold in pigs," said Randall Prather, distinguished professor of animal sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. "We were able to breed a litter of pigs that did not produce this enzyme, and as a result, they did not get sick when we exposed them to the virus."

Prather and his colleagues edited the gene responsible for making the ANPEP enzyme, resulting in a litter of seven pigs with a "null" gene that did not produce the enzyme. When exposed to the TGEV virus, these pigs did not become infected, showing that the presence of the ANPEP enzyme is necessary for an infection and gene editing can create pigs that are resistant.

Burden - Farmers - Time - Money - Labor

"It's a tremendous financial burden for farmers to put time, money and labor into animals that will get sick," said Kristin Whitworth, co-author on the study and a research scientist in MU's Division of Animal Sciences. "Breeding pigs with genetic resistance will help to ease that burden. In terms of animal welfare, if we can prevent these pigs from getting sick,...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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