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Variation in the prion protein gene (PRNP) sequence of wild deer in Great Britain and mainland Europe

Robinson, Amy L.; Williamson, Helen; Güere, Mariella E.; Tharaldsen, Helene; Baker, Karis; Smith, Stephanie L.; Pérez-Espona, Sílvia; Krojerová-Prokešová, Jarmila; Pemberton, Josephine M.; Goldmann, Wilfred; Houston, Fiona

Variation in the prion protein gene (PRNP) sequence of wild deer in Great Britain and mainland Europe Thumbnail


Amy L. Robinson

Helen Williamson

Mariella E. Güere

Helene Tharaldsen

Dr Karis Baker
Ancient-DNA Commercialisation Developer

Stephanie L. Smith

Sílvia Pérez-Espona

Jarmila Krojerová-Prokešová

Josephine M. Pemberton

Wilfred Goldmann

Fiona Houston


Susceptibility to prion diseases is largely determined by the sequence of the prion protein gene (PRNP), which encodes the prion protein (PrP). The recent emergence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Europe has highlighted the need to investigate PRNP gene diversity in European deer species, to better predict their susceptibility to CWD. Here we report a large genetic survey of six British deer species, including red (Cervus elaphus), sika (Cervus nippon), roe (Capreolus capreolus), fallow (Dama dama), muntjac (Muntiacus reevesii), and Chinese water deer (Hydropotes inermis), which establishes PRNP haplotype and genotype frequencies. Two smaller data sets from red deer in Norway and the Czech Republic are also included for comparison. Overall red deer show the most PRNP variation, with non-synonymous/ coding polymorphisms at codons 98, 168, 226 and 247, which vary markedly in frequency between different regions. Polymorphisms P168S and I247L were only found in Scottish and Czech populations, respectively. T98A was found in all populations except Norway and the south of England. Significant regional differences in genotype frequencies were observed within both British and European red deer populations. Other deer species showed less variation, particularly roe and fallow deer, in which identical PRNP gene sequences were found in all individuals analysed. Based on comparison with PRNP sequences of North American cervids affected by CWD and limited experimental challenge data, these results suggest that a high proportion of wild deer in Great Britain may be susceptible to CWD.


Robinson, A. L., Williamson, H., Güere, M. E., Tharaldsen, H., Baker, K., Smith, S. L., …Houston, F. (2019). Variation in the prion protein gene (PRNP) sequence of wild deer in Great Britain and mainland Europe. Veterinary Research, 50(1), Article 59.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 5, 2019
Online Publication Date Jul 31, 2019
Publication Date Jul 31, 2019
Deposit Date Aug 16, 2019
Publicly Available Date Aug 16, 2019
Journal Veterinary Research
Print ISSN 0928-4249
Publisher BioMed Central
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 50
Issue 1
Article Number 59


Published Journal Article (1.6 Mb)

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Copyright Statement
© The Author(s) 2019. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
(http://creat iveco mmons .org/licen ses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium,
provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license,
and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creat iveco mmons .org/
publi cdoma in/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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