Growth hormone interacts with the Marek's disease virus SORF2 protein and is associated with disease resistance in chicken

Hsiao Ching Liu, Hsing Jien Kung, Janet E. Fulton, Robin W. Morgan, Hans H. Cheng

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Marek's disease (MD) is a lymphoproliferative disease of chickens induced by a herpesvirus, the MD virus (MDV). Because MD is a significant economic problem to the poultry industry, there is great interest in enhancing genetic resistance, which is controlled by multiple genes. The influence of the MHC has been clearly demonstrated, and several relevant quantitative trait loci have been mapped; however, no single gene influencing MD resistance has been identified. Transcription of SORF2 is perturbed in the MDV recombinant clone RM1 due to a solo insertion of the reticuloendotheliosis virus long terminal repeat, which may explain the loss of oncogenicity for this strain. Hypothesizing that SORF2-interacting host proteins are involved in MD resistance, we screened a chicken splenic cDNA library by the yeast two-hybrid assay using SORF2 as bait. The chicken growth hormone (GH) structural peptide was identified, and the specific interaction was verified by coimmunoprecipitation. Immunohistochemical staining and indirect immunofluorescence assay indicated that GH and SORF2 can be coexpressed in MDV-infected cells both in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, polymorphism in the GH gene (GH1) is associated with the number of tissues with tumors in commercial White Leghorn chickens with the MHC B*2/B* 15 genotype. We conclude that GH1 may well be a MD resistance gene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9203-9208
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Jul 31 2001
Externally publishedYes


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