Analysis of the early immune response to infection by infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV) in chickens differing in their resistance to the disease

Chicken whole-genome gene expression arrays were used to analyze the host response to infection by infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV). Spleen and bursal tissue were examined from control and infected birds at 2, 3, and 4 days postinfection from two lines that differ in their resistance to IBDV infection. The host response was evaluated over this period, and differences between susceptible and resistant chicken lines were examined. Antiviral genes, including IFNA, IFNG, MX1, IFITM1, IFITM3, and IFITM5, were upregulated in response to infection. Evaluation of this gene expression data allowed us to predict several genes as candidates for involvement in resistance to IBDV. IMPORTANCE Infectious bursal disease (IBD) is of economic importance to the poultry industry and thus is also important for food security. Vaccines are available, but field strains of the virus are of increasing virulence. There is thus an urgent need to explore new control solutions, one of which would be to breed birds with greater resistance to IBD. This goal is perhaps uniquely achievable with poultry, of all farm animal species, since the genetics of 85% of the 60 billion chickens produced worldwide each year is under the control of essentially two breeding companies. In a comprehensive study, we attempt here to identify global transcriptomic differences in the target organ of the virus between chicken lines that differ in resistance and to predict candidate resistance genes.

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