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Mutant gene link to West Nile virus in horses
Date:6/2/2010

The same mutated gene that makes humans more susceptible to the potentially fatal West Nile virus is also responsible for the virus affecting horses, according to scientists at the University of Adelaide, Australia.

A naturally occurring mutation of the OAS1 gene has now been confirmed as increasing the vulnerability of horses to the West Nile virus, thanks to a study led by Professor David Adelson (University of Adelaide) and conducted by PhD student Jonathan Rios (Texas A&M University).

The results of the study were published last month in the online peer-reviewed science journal PLoS One.

West Nile virus causes inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, resulting in paralysis and death in humans, horses, birds and other species.

"Horses have been seriously affected by the West Nile virus, especially in North America where vaccinations, treatments and the loss of horses have cost countless millions of dollars to horse owners, industry and the community," says Professor Adelson, who is Professor of Bioinformatics and Computational Genetics at the University of Adelaide's School of Molecular & Biomedical Science.

"The OAS gene cluster in horses most closely resembles that of humans. Because previous research had already identified mutations of OAS1 as playing a key role in the vulnerability of mice and humans to the West Nile virus, we felt it was worth investigating this potential link in horses.

"These genetic mechanisms seem to be playing a similar role in humans and horses in term
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Contact: Professor David Adelson, University of Adelaide
david.adelson@adelaide.edu.au
61-883-037-555
University of Adelaide
Source:Eurekalert

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