Substitution of warthog NF-κB motifs into RELA of domestic pigs is not sufficient to confer resilience to African swine fever virus

African swine fever virus (ASFV) causes a lethal, haemorrhagic disease in domestic swine that threatens pig production across the globe. Unlike domestic pigs, warthogs, which are wildlife hosts of the virus, do not succumb to the lethal effects of infection. There are three amino acid differences between the sequence of the warthog and domestic pig RELA protein; a subunit of the NF-κB transcription factor that plays a key role in regulating the immune response to infections. Domestic pigs with all 3 or 2 of the amino acids from the warthog RELA orthologue have been generated by gene editing. To assess if these variations confer resilience to ASF we established an intranasal challenge model with a moderately virulent ASFV. No difference in clinical, virological or pathological parameters were observed in domestic pigs with the 2 amino acid substitution. Domestic pigs with all 3 amino acids found in warthog RELA were not resilient to ASF but a delay in onset of clinical signs and less viral DNA in blood samples and nasal secretions was observed in some animals. Inclusion of these and additional warthog genetic traits into domestic pigs may be one way to assist in combating the devastating impact of ASFV.

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