Molecular Markers For Selection of Resistance to Facial Eczema
The disease facial eczema is caused by the fungal metabolite sporidesmin which produces photosensitisation of animals whose liver and biliary tract have been damaged by the toxin. Sporidesmin is produced by the pasture fungus Pithomyces chartarum and affects ruminant animals that graze on contaminated pasture. Previous studies have shown that sporidesmin is metabolised in the liver and have suggested that the toxin is metabolically inactivated by enzymes in the glutathione S-transferase and cytochrome P-450 families. The activities of these enzymes were therefore measured in liver extracts from Romneys that had been selected for resistance or susceptibility to sporidesmin - induced liver damage. Although there were no differences in cytochrome P-450 CO binding spectra or cytochrome c reductase between the selection lines, resistant Romneys had greater nitroanisole O-demethylase activity and this difference was apparently enhanced two days after dosing with sporidesmin. Dose-dependent differences occurred in the absence of major hepatocellular injury suggesting that they reflected changes in enzyme activity rather than changes in tissue mass. Aminopyrine N-demethylase did not vary significantly between the selection lines. Some differences in GSH-dependent metabolism were also observed. Undosed resistant Romneys showed greater GSH-dependent metabolism of sporidesmin in a spectrophotometric assay. It is possible that glutathione S-transferase Mu or Theta isoforms had greater activity in the resistant lines as differences were observed using p-nitrobenzyl chloride and 1,2 epoxy-3-p-nitrophenoxypropanol but not with 1-chloro-2,4-dinitrobenzene or 1,2-dichloro-4-nitrobenzene that are good substrates for these isoforms. 2-D PAGE was applied to the separation of whole homogenate and soluble proteins. Variations in expression of some proteins including GST Mu isoforms were found between the selection lines. Roles of cytochrome P-450 and glutathione S-transferase in the hepatic detoxication of sporidesmin have previously been demonstrated. Results obtained in this study suggest that resistant Romneys may have greater cytochrome P-450 O-demethylase and glutathione S-transferase activities that could be responsible for increased metabolic inactivation of sporidesmin. These differences may in the future be of use in design of DNA probes to enhance detection and selection of facial eczema resistant livestock.