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The sheep has worldwide agricultural importance, yet the genetic control of the immune responses underlying susceptibility or resistance to ovine disease is little understood. Here, we identify six novel polymorphisms in the ovine immune response genes interferon-γ (IFNG), tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF), interleukin-1β (IL1B) and interleukin-4 (IL4) in pedigree Charollais flocks. We confirm the presence of previously reported polymorphisms in IFNG and IL1B in Charollais. Restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) genotyping assays have been developed for four polymorphisms, IFNGg.168C>T, IFNGg.285A>G, IL1Bg.689C>T and TNFg.3UTRA>G, and a Taqman genotyping assay has been developed for IL4g.485C>T. The previously described IL2g.647C>T polymorphism is adapted for RFLP analysis. Allele frequencies are described in Charollais, Lleyn and Suffolk cross sheep. Polymorphisms are typed in both Charollais ewes and lambs and analysed against abortion phenotypes. A subset of animals have also been analysed for the presence of Toxoplasma gondii, an abortion-causing protozoan. The IFNGg.168T allele is shown to be associated with increased risk of a ewe having an abortion, while the IFNGg.285G allele is associated with increased risk of a lamb being aborted. These assays provide tools for the investigation of the genetic basis of other phenotypes in sheep, including infectious disease susceptibility.

Original publication




Journal article


Anim genet

Publication Date





535 - 543


Abortion, Veterinary, Animals, Cytokines, Female, Polymorphism, Genetic, Pregnancy, Sheep Diseases, Sheep, Domestic, Toxoplasma