Newcastle disease virus (NDV) is a threat to the global poultry industry, but particularly for smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries. Previous reports suggest that some breeds of chickens are less susceptible to NDV infection, however, the mechanisms contributing to this are unknown. We here examined the comparative transcriptional responses of innate immune genes to NDV infection in inbred sublines of the Fayoumi and Leghorn breeds known to differ in their relative susceptibility to infection as well as at the microchromosome bearing the major histocompatability complex (MHC) locus. The analysis identified a set of five core genes, Mx1, IRF1, IRF7, STAT1, and SOCS1, that are up-regulated regardless of subline. Several genes were differentially expressed in a breed- or subline-dependent manner. The breed-dependent response involved TLR3, NOS2, LITAF, and IFIH1 in the Fayoumi versus IL8, CAMP, and CCL4 in the Leghorn. Further analysis identified subline-dependent differences in the pro-inflammatory response within the Fayoumi breed that are likely influenced by the MHC. These results have identified conserved, breed-dependent, and subline-dependent innate immune responses to NDV infection in chickens, and provide a strong framework for the future characterization of the specific roles of genes and pathways that influence the susceptibility of chickens to NDV infection.
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