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Molecular complexity of anti-PRRSV immunity in swine

On Friday, February 21, 2014 Dr. Michael Murtaugh of the University of Minnesota, will speak to faculty, students and staff about porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV). PRRSV causes a serious disease in pigs, causing highly variable levels of immunity. To better understand the basis for this variation, Dr. Murtaugh and his team have characterized antibody repertoire formation and diversity in the pig, since humoral immunity is an integral component of anti-viral immunity. Although antibody diversity is considered to be virtually limitless, there are substantial individual differences in light and heavy chain gene segment usage, hypersomatic mutation, and response to infection. An explanation of immunoglobulin structures associated with highly protective immune responses will help guide improved vaccine development and provide useful models for other animal species and humans.

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In conversation with Dr. Michael Murtaugh:

In lay terms, tell us about your research and its impact.

  • PRRSV is an economic catastrophe for swine producers and a health and welfare disaster for pigs. Its interaction with pigs is nearly unique compared to other virus-host interactions, thus creating great challenges for prevention and control. We are exploring the mechanisms pigs use to successfully fight off PRRSV infections, which will improve our ability to control PRRS in the future. What we learn about pig resistance to PRRSV also will be helpful in controlling and preventing other diseases.

What are the three take away messages you want the audience to leave with?

  • Host-pathogen interactions can only be understood by studying the host and the pathogen.
  • Swine have multiple mechanisms to generate antibody diversity.
  • Animal variation in immune response is extensive.

What else are you researching?

  • Molecular mechanisms of disease resistance, using PRRSV and porcine circovirus type 2 in swine as models. PRRSV evolution. Immunological tool development for food animals.

Presented on February 21, 2014.