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Open Access Open Badges Research

Analysis of protein expression profiles in the thymus of chickens infected with Marek’s disease virus

Xuming Hu1, Aijian Qin12*, Kun Qian12, Hongxia Shao12, Chuan Yu2, Wencai Xu2 and Ji Miao2

Author Affiliations

1 Ministry of Education Key Lab for Avian Preventive Medicine, Yangzhou University, No.12 East Wenhui Road, Yangzhou, Jiangsu 225009, P.R.China

2 Key Laboratory of Jiangsu Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, 225009, P.R. China

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:256  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-256

Published: 1 November 2012



Marek’s disease virus (MDV) is a highly cell-associated oncogenic α-herpesvirus that causes a disease characterised by T-cell lymphomas. The pathogenesis, or the nature of the interaction of the virus and the host, in the thymus are still unclear.


In this study, we identified 119 differentially expressed proteins using two-dimensional electrophoresis and mass spectrometry from the thymuses of chickens infected with the RB1B strain of MDV. These differentially expressed proteins were found mainly at 21, 28 and 35 days post-infection. More than 20 of the differentially expressed proteins were directly associated with immunity, apoptosis, tumour development and viral infection and replication. Five of these proteins, ANXA1, MIF, NPM1, OP18 and VIM, were further confirmed using real-time PCR. The functional associations and roles in oncogenesis of these proteins are discussed.


This work provides a proteomic profiling of host responses to MDV in the thymus of chickens and further characterises proteins related to the mechanisms of MDV oncogenesis and pathogenesis.