Prion protein gene (PRNP) variants and evidence for strong purifying selection in functionally important regions of bovine exon 3. Academic Article uri icon


  • Amino acid replacements encoded by the prion protein gene (PRNP) have been associated with transmissible and hereditary spongiform encephalopathies in mammalian species. However, an association between bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and bovine PRNP exon 3 has not been detected. Moreover, little is currently known regarding the mechanisms of evolution influencing the bovine PRNP gene. Therefore, in this study we evaluated the patterns of nucleotide variation associated with PRNP exon 3 for 36 breeds of domestic cattle and representative samples for 10 additional species of Bovinae. The results of our study indicate that strong purifying selection has intensely constrained PRNP over the long-term evolutionary history of the subfamily Bovinae, especially in regions considered to be of functional, structural, and pathogenic importance in humans as well as other mammals. The driving force behind this intense level of purifying selection remains to be explained.

published proceedings

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

author list (cited authors)

  • Seabury, C. M., Honeycutt, R. L., Rooney, A. P., Halbert, N. D., & Derr, J. N.

citation count

  • 48

complete list of authors

  • Seabury, Christopher M||Honeycutt, Rodney L||Rooney, Alejandro P||Halbert, Natalie D||Derr, James N

publication date

  • October 2004