Using Integrative Genomics to Elucidate Genetic Resistance to Marek's Disease in Chickens
MacLea, K. S.
While rearing birds in confinement and at high density are very successful practices for producing poultry meat and eggs, these conditions may promote the spread of infectious diseases. Consequently, the poultry industry places great emphasis on disease control measures, primarily at the animal husbandry level. The field of genomics offers great promise to complement these current control measures by providing information on the molecular basis for disease, disease resistance, and vaccinal immunity. This briefly summarizes some of our efforts to apply several genomic and functional genomics approaches to identify genes and pathways that confer genetic resistance to Marek’s disease (MD), a herpes virus-induced T cell lymphoma of chickens. By utilizing the ”top-down” approach of QTL to identify genomics regions, and integrating it with ”bottom-up” approaches of transcript profiling and Marek’s disease virus (MDV)-chicken protein-protein interactions, three genes that confer resistance to MD are revealed, plus a number of other positional candidate genes of high confidence. These genes can be further evaluated in poultry breeding programmes to determine if they confer genetic resistance to MD. This integrative genomics strategy can be applied to other infectious diseases. The impact of the genome sequence and other technological advancements are also discussed.