A strategy to identify positional candidate genes conferring Marek's disease resistance by integrating DNA microarrays and genetic mapping.
Marker-assisted selection (MAS) to enhance genetic resistance to Marek's disease (MD), a herpesvirus-induced T cell cancer in chicken, is an attractive alternative to augment control with vaccines. Our earlier studies indicate that there are many quantitative trait loci (QTL) containing one or more genes that confer genetic resistance to MD. Unfortunately, it is difficult to sufficiently resolve these QTL to identify the causative gene and generate tightly linked markers. One possible solution is to identify positional candidate genes by virtue of gene expression differences between MD resistant and susceptible chicken using deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) microarrays followed by genetic mapping of the differentially-expressed genes. In this preliminary study, we show that DNA microarrays containing approximately 1200 genes or expressed sequence tags (ESTs) are able to reproducibly detect differences in gene expression between the inbred ADOL lines 63 (MD resistant) and 72 (MD susceptible) of uninfected and Marek's disease virus (MDV)-infected peripheral blood lymphocytes. Microarray data were validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and found to be consistent with previous literature on gene induction or immune response. Integration of the microarrays with genetic mapping data was achieved with a sample of 15 genes. Twelve of these genes had mapped human orthologues. Seven genes were located on the chicken linkage map as predicted by the human-chicken comparative map, while two other genes defined a new conserved syntenic group. More importantly, one of the genes with differential expression is known to confer genetic resistance to MD while another gene is a prime positional candidate for a QTL.