Breeding towards genetic resistance to prion disease is effective in eliminating scrapie. In sheep, classical forms of scrapie have been eradicated almost completely in several countries by breeding programs using a prion protein (PrP) gene (PRNP) amino acid polymorphism. For goats, field and experimental studies have provided evidence for several amino acid polymorphisms that are associated with resistance to scrapie, but only limited data are available concerning the susceptibility of caprine PRNP genotypes to BSE. In this study, goat kids representing five PRNP genotypes based on three polymorphisms (M142, Q211 and K222 and the wild type I142, R211 and Q222) were orally challenged with bovine or goat BSE. Wild type goats were killed with clinical signs between 24-28 months post inoculation (mpi) to both challenges, and goats with genotype R/Q211 succumbed between 29-36 mpi. I/M142 goats developed clinical signs at 44-45 mpi and M/M142 goats remained healthy until euthanasia at 48 mpi. None of the Q/K222 goats showed definite clinical signs. Taken together the highest attack ratios were seen in wild type and R/Q211 goats, and the lowest in I/M142, M/M142 and Q/K222. In all genotype groups, one or more goats remained healthy within the incubation period in both challenges and without detectable PrP deposition in the tissues. Our data show that both the K222 and M142 polymorphisms lengthen the incubation period significantly compared to wild type animals, but only K222 was associated with a significant increase in resistance to BSE infection after oral exposure to both BSE sources.
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