Defining the Unique Genetic Markers in Dogs That Define Immune Function, Disease Resistance and Tissue Transplantation

The Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) genes encode proteins that are critical for a wide range of biological functions, from immune protection against infectious disease to the predisposition of an individual to develop diabetes and auto immune diseases.

The MHC genes in the dog are incompletely characterized, thereby severely limiting our ability to full define the cause of many canine diseases. Dr. Ramakrishnan has developed improved methods for identifying the different forms of canine MHC genes in a large number of dogs of diverse breeds.

In this study he will characterize the patterns of MHC genetic variation in over 1200 dogs from at least 50 breeds using a high throughput sequencing strategy. The distribution and frequency of different forms of each of these genes and their specific clustering among different breeds will greatly enhance our knowledge of the genetic diversity among breeds.

The methodology and data gained from this study will enhance the power of association studies between MHC types and canine diseases. Such a database will also enable tissue transplantation from unrelated but matched donors as a treatment for advanced malignancies (stem cell transplants) and other diseases (tissue transplantation). Fully defining the canine MHC will have broad impact across canine health, including oncology, immunology and infectious disease.

Co-sponsored with the AKC Canine Health Foundation, Grant Number: 01771

RESEARCHERS

Bevery Torok-Storb, PhD, DVM
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Amount: $2,000

Developing a New Tool to Study Viral Infections and Cancer in Dogs

Development of an MHC Class I Tetramer to Study Virus- and Tumor-specific CD8+ T-cell Responses in Dogs

Summary: Researchers will develop a state-of-the-art molecular tool to track and study killer T-cell populations that are responsible for fighting viral infections and cancer in dogs.

Description: In humans, a powerful immunologic reagent called a tetramer is standardly used to visualize changes in the body’s killer T-cells. These cells respond to immunologic challenges and are critical to the body’s immune system.

Current knowledge of T-cell behavior in dogs could be significantly advanced with the development of a dog-specific tetramer. Researchers will work to construct the first canine tetramer, which would then be used in the development of vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer in dogs.

Co-sponsored with the Morris Animal Foundation, Grant Number: D15CA-015

RESEARCHERS

Dr. Paul R. Hess
North Carolina State University