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January 2009 - March 2010

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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Veterinary Medicine
Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Science

PI: Michael P. Murtaugh

Functional Genomics of Porcine Immunity to Enteric and Respiratory Disease Agents

The Murtaugh laboratory is investigating molecular mechanisms of disease resistance in swine with particular attention to persistent viral infections and enteric immunity. Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus causes a prolonged acute, viremic infection of lung macrophages and a persistent infection of macrophages and dendritic cells in lymphoid tissues. A better understanding of viral structure based on direct interrogation of viral particles will help to elucidate candidate antigens important for protective immunity either as key antigens or in interference with immune responses. To achieve this aim, the researchers are using biochemical and mass spectrometry approaches to elucidate virion structure. Similarly, a better understanding of the immune response can be gained by unbiased approaches to assess host response and systemic levels of responding molecules. This aim is being addressed by microarray methods using Affymetrix chips and long oligonucleotide arrays to interrogate macrophages at various stages of infection. Identification of genes altered in expression under conditions of viral infection is expected to reveal mechanisms of cellular immunity, insights into viral evasion of immunity, and establishment of persistent infection. Identification of altered protein profiles in serum of infected animals will further illuminate host responses to infection without a requirement for pre-existing knowledge. These approaches are valuable for understanding host-pathogen interactions relevant to agricultural and wildlife species.

The molecular basis of enteric immunity is essentially a black box. Identification of differentially expressed sequences in enteric immune tissues provides a fundamental genomic basis of enteric, mucosal immunity. Further characterization of differentially expressed sequences is expected to reveal biochemical and molecular mechanisms of immune protection to enteric pathogens. Large-scale expressed sequence library analysis, comparative hybridizations, expression profiling, and similar approaches are proving useful to the identification of novel proteins that may be uniquely involved in mucosal immune responses in the small intestine.

Group Members

Juan Abrahante, Research Associate
Cheryl Dvorak, Research Associate
Josephine Gnanandarajah, Graduate Student
Theodor Griggs, Undergraduate Student
Craig Johnson, Research Associate
Juan Li, Graduate Student
Sumathy Puvanediran, Graduate Student
Heidi Schatz, Undergraduate Student
Suzanne Stone, Staff
Kyra Wingate, Graduate Student