The LEPR Gene Is Associated with Reproductive Seasonality Traits in Rasa Aragonesa Sheep.
The aim of this study was to characterize and identify causative polymorphisms in the leptin receptor (LEPR) gene responsible for the seasonal variation of reproductive traits in sheep. Three reproductive seasonality traits were studied: the total days of anoestrous (TDA), the progesterone cycling months (P4CM) and the oestrous cycling months (OCM). In total, 18 SNPs were detected in 33 ewes with extreme values for TDA and OCM. Six SNPs were non-synonymous substitutions and two of them were predicted in silico as deleterious: rs596133197 and rs403578195. These polymorphisms were then validated in 239 ewes. The SNP rs403578195, located in exon 8 and leading to a change of alanine to glycine (Ala284Gly) in the extracellular domain of the protein, was associated with the OCM trait, being the G allele associated with a decrease of 12 percent of the OCM trait. Haplotype analyses also suggested the involvement of other non-synonymous SNP located in exon 20 (rs405459906). This SNP also produces an amino acid change (Lys1069Glu) in the intracellular domain of the protein and segregates independently of rs403578195. These results confirm for the first time the role of the LEPR gene in sheep reproductive seasonality.