Jasper Murphy L&S Sciences
CRISPR-Cas9 mediated knockout of the tax region of bovine leukemia virus in cell culture
Bovine leukemia virus (BLV) is a retrovirus that is present in 84% of dairy and 38% of beef cattle in the USA [Buehring]. Even more threatening is the discovery that humans are also infected with BLV and the frequency of BLV DNA in mammary epithelium from women with breast cancer (59%) was significantly higher than in normal controls (29%) [Buehring]. This association of BLV with breast cancer motivates research toward generating a treatment. In my research project, I will attempt to knock out the essential tax region of the BLV genome in infected fetal lamb kidney (FLK) cells using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing. I hypothesize that this will prevent viral DNA replication without affecting the health of the host cells. Multiple attempts to develop a vaccine for bovine leukemia virus have not been successful because extracellular virus particles are not produced. A successful CRISPR knockout of the tax gene could open the doors to developing an antiviral therapy for infected humans and cattle.