A Genetic Predisposition to Chronic Wasting Disease in the Reindeer Rangifer tarandus in the Northern European Part of Russia


Nucleotide sequences of the prion protein gene PRNP have been obtained in order to assess potential genetic predisposition to the deadly prion chronic wasting disease (CWD) in three regional groups of wild reindeer and two regional groups of domesticated reindeer Rangifer tarandus in the northern European part of Russia. We report identification of seven single nucleotide polymorphisms corresponding to the substitutions in six codons of the prion protein PrP, namely 2(V/M), 129(G/S), 138(S/N), 169(V/M), 176(N/D), and 225(S/Y). Six alleles of the PrP protein have been described. The genotypes with asparagine (N) in codon 138 (138NN and 138SN), which are associated with higher resistance to CWD, were detected in 8.7, 14.3, and 18.2% of animals in the wild reindeer groups from Novaya Zemlya, Kola Peninsula, and the forest regions of Arkhangelsk oblast and the Komi Republic. It has been found that the frequency of these genotypes in domesticated reindeers from the Komi Republic and Kolguev Island was higher, 37.5 and 42.1%, respectively. It has been noted that due to the predominance of PrP genotypes with serine in codon 138 (138SS), which are associated with increased susceptibility to CWD, and the detection of this disease in reindeer, moose, and red deer in Scandinavia, there exists a real danger that CWD will spread among the reindeer inhabiting the European part of Russia.

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The authors are grateful to S.L. Kal’nov for his suggestion to perform this study; to V.V. Elsakov, A.V. Davydov, K.F. Tirronen, and other colleagues for their help with the material collection; and to I.G. Meshchersky and P.A. Sorokin for their assistance in the laboratory work.

This work was carried out in the Molecular Diagnostic Center, of the Center for Collective Use “Instrumental Methods in Ecology,” of Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian Academy of Sciences.


This work was supported in part by the “Biodiversity of Natural Systems: Biological Resources of Russia. Status Assessment and Fundamental Bases of Monitoring” Fundamental Research Program of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences (topic 52) and in part by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (project no. 14-04-01135).

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Correspondence to M. V. Kholodova.

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Translated by E. Martynova

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Kholodova, M.V., Baranova, A.I., Mizin, I.A. et al. A Genetic Predisposition to Chronic Wasting Disease in the Reindeer Rangifer tarandus in the Northern European Part of Russia. Biol Bull Russ Acad Sci 46, 555–561 (2019) doi:10.1134/S1062359019060074

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