A variety of commercial DNA arrays specific for humans and rodents are widely available; however, microarrays containing well-characterized genes to study pathway-specific gene expression are not as accessible for domestic animals, such as cattle, sheep and pigs. Therefore, a small-scale application-targeted bovine immune-endocrine cDNA array was developed to evaluate genetic pathways involved in the immune-endocrine axis of cattle during periods of altered homeostasis provoked by physiological or environmental stressors, such as infection, vaccination or disease. For this purpose, 167 cDNA sequences corresponding to immune, endocrine and inflammatory response genes were collected and categorized. Positive controls included 5 housekeeping genes (glyceraldehydes-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase, ribosomal protein L19, β-actin, β2-microglobulin) and bovine genomic DNA. Negative controls were a bacterial gene (Rhodococcus equi 17-kDa virulence-associated protein) and a partial sequence of the plasmid pACYC177. In addition, RNA extracted from un-stimulated, as well as superantigen (Staphylococcus aureus enterotoxin-A, S. aureus Cowan Pansorbin Cells) and mitogen-stimulated (LPS, ConA) bovine blood leukocytes was mixed, reverse transcribed and PCR amplified using gene-specific primers. The endocrine-associated genes were amplified from cDNA derived from un-stimulated bovine hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal and thyroid gland tissues. The array was constructed in 4 repeating grids of 180 duplicated spots by coupling the PCR amplified 213-630 bp gene fragments onto poly-L-lysine coated glass slides. The bovine immune-endocrine arrays were standardized and preliminary gene expression profiles generated using Cy3 and Cy5 labelled cDNA from un-stimulated and ConA (5 μg/ml) stimulated PBMC of 4 healthy Holstein cows (2-4 replicate arrays/cow) in a time course study. Mononuclear cell-derived cytokine and chemokine (IL-2, IL-1α, TNFα, IFN-γ, TGFβ-1, MCP-1, MCP-2 and MIP-3α) mRNA exhibited a repeatable and consistently low expression in un-stimulated cells and at least a two-fold increased expression following 6 and 24 h ConA stimulation as compared to 0 h un-stimulated controls. In contrast, expression of antigen presenting molecules, MHC-DR, MHC-DQ and MHC-DY, were consistently at least two-fold lower following 6 and 24 h ConA stimulation. The only endocrine gene with differential expression following ConA stimulation was prolactin. Additionally, due to the high level of genetic homology between ovine, swine and bovine genes, RNA similarly acquired from sheep and pigs was evaluated and similar gene expression patterns were noted. These data demonstrate that this application-targeted array containing a set of well characterized genes can be used to determine the relative gene expression corresponding to immune-endocrine responses of cattle and related species, sheep and pigs. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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