Associations between the presence of specific antibodies to the West Nile Virus infection and candidate genes in Romanian horses from the Danube delta

Mol Biol Rep. 2019 Aug;46(4):4453-4461. doi: 10.1007/s11033-019-04900-w. Epub 2019 Jun 7.


The West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus causing meningoencephalitis in humans and animals. Due to their particular susceptibility to WNV infection, horses serve as a sentinel species. In a population of Romanian semi-feral horses living in the Danube delta region, we have analyzed the distribution of candidate polymorphic genetic markers between anti WNV-IgG seropositive and seronegative horses. Thirty-six SNPs located in 28 immunity-related genes and 26 microsatellites located in the MHC and LY49 complex genomic regions were genotyped in 57 seropositive and 32 seronegative horses. The most significant association (pcorr < 0.0002) was found for genotypes composed of markers of the SLC11A1 and TLR4 genes. Markers of five other candidate genes (ADAM17, CXCR3, IL12A, MAVS, TNFA), along with 5 MHC class I and LY49-linked microsatellites were also associated with the WNV antibody status in this model horse population. The OAS1 gene, previously associated with WNV-induced clinical disease, was not associated with the presence of anti-WNV antibodies.

Keywords: Horse; MHC; Microsatellite; NKR; Polymorphism; Restriction fragment length polymorphism; SLC11A1; TLR4; West Nile virus.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Horses / blood
  • Horses / genetics*
  • Horses / immunology
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide / genetics
  • Romania
  • Sentinel Species
  • West Nile Fever / genetics*
  • West Nile Fever / immunology*
  • West Nile Fever / veterinary
  • West Nile virus / pathogenicity


  • Antibodies, Viral