Mining the Unmapped Reads in Bovine RNA-Seq Data Reveals the Prevalence of Bovine Herpes Virus-6 in European Dairy Cows and the Associated Changes in Their Phenotype and Leucocyte Transcriptome

Buggiotti, L and Cheng, Z and Wathes, D C and GplusE Consortium, GplusE (2020) Mining the Unmapped Reads in Bovine RNA-Seq Data Reveals the Prevalence of Bovine Herpes Virus-6 in European Dairy Cows and the Associated Changes in Their Phenotype and Leucocyte Transcriptome. Viruses, 12 (12). p. 1451. ISSN 1999-4915

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3390/v12121451

Abstract

Microbial RNA is detectable in host samples by aligning unmapped reads from RNA sequencing against taxon reference sequences, generating a score proportional to the microbial load. An RNA-Seq data analysis showed that 83.5% of leukocyte samples from six dairy herds in different EU countries contained bovine herpes virus-6 (BoHV-6). Phenotypic data on milk production, metabolic function, and disease collected during their first 50 days in milk (DIM) were compared between cows with low (1–200 and n = 114) or high (201–1175 and n = 24) BoHV-6 scores. There were no differences in milk production parameters, but high score cows had numerically fewer incidences of clinical mastitis (4.2% vs. 12.2%) and uterine disease (54.5% vs. 62.7%). Their metabolic status was worse, based on measurements of IGF-1 and various metabolites in blood and milk. A comparison of the global leukocyte transcriptome between high and low BoHV-6 score cows at around 14 DIM yielded 485 differentially expressed genes (DEGs). The top pathway from Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analysis was the immune system process. Down-regulated genes in the high BoHV-6 cows included those encoding proteins involved in viral detection (DDX6 and DDX58), interferon response, and E3 ubiquitin ligase activity. This suggested that BoHV-6 may largely evade viral detection and that it does not cause clinical disease in dairy cows.

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