Chicken cells gene-edited to resist Influenza A virus

Scientists have used gene-editing techniques to stop Influenza A virus from replicating in chicken cells in vitro. They speculate in the journal eLife that it might be possible to generate a gene-edited chicken that is resilient to influenza.

Researchers at Imperial College London found that during an infection, Influenza A viruses hijack the cell protein ANP32A to help replicate themselves. Working with experts from the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, the researchers used gene-editing techniques to remove the section of DNA responsible for producing ANP32A. They found the virus was no longer able to grow inside cells with the genetic change.

“We haven’t produced any birds yet and we need to check if the DNA change has any other effects on the bird cells before we can take this next step,” commented Dr Mike McGrew at The Roslin Institute

Researchers at The Roslin Institute previously worked with experts from Cambridge University to produce chickens that did not transmit avian influenza to other chickens following infection, using genetic modification techniques (see article). The new approach is different because it does not involve introducing new genetic material into the bird’s DNA.

The study was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, which also provides strategic funding to The Roslin Institute. PhD student funding was provided by the global poultry research company Cobb-Vantress.

Article: Long, J. S., Idoko-Akoh, A., Mistry, B., Goldhill, D., Staller, E., Schreyer, J., Ross, C., Goodbourn, S., Shelton, H., Skinner, M. A., Sang, H., McGrew, M. J., Barclay, W. (2019). Species specific differences in use of ANP32 proteins by influenza A virus. eLife 8:e45066, doi: 10.7554/eLife.45066

[SOURCE: University of Edinburgh]