Effect of polymorphisms in the leptin, leptin receptor, and acyl-coenzyme A:diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1) genes and genetic polymorphism of milk proteins on cheese characteristics

J Dairy Sci. 2011 Jul;94(7):3295-304. doi: 10.3168/jds.2011-4317.


Cheese production has increased worldwide during the last decade and is expected to increase within the coming decade as well. Despite this, the relations between cow genetics and cheese characteristics are not fully known. The aim of this study was to determine if polymorphisms in the leptin (LEP), leptin receptor (LEPR), and acyl-coenzyme A:diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1) genes as well as genetic variants of β-casein (β-CN), κ-CN, and β-lactoglobulin (β-LG) affect technological properties important for cheese production and, hence, could act as genetic makers for cheese quality. Individual milk samples from the Swedish Red and the Swedish Holstein breeds were analyzed for sizes of CN micelles and fat globules as well as rennet-induced gel strength, gelation time, and yield stress. Model cheeses were produced to study yield, hardness, and pH of the cheeses. The A1457G, A252T, A59V, and C963T single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) were analyzed on the LEP gene, the T945M SNP on the LEPR gene, and the Nt984+8(A-G) SNP on the DGAT1 gene. In addition, genetic variants of β-CN, κ-CN, and β-LG were determined. The results indicate that technological properties were influenced by the LEPR(T945M) polymorphism, which had an association with gel strength, yield stress, and cheese hardness (T > C). However, also LEP(A252T) was shown to affect gel strength (T > A), whereas the LEP(A59V) had an effect on fat globule size (T > C). For the milk protein genes, favorable effects were found for the A and B variants of β-LG and κ-CN, respectively, on gel strength, gelation time, and yield stress. In addition, the B variant of κ-CN was shown to be associated with smaller CN micelles than the A variant. Thus, the results demonstrate potential genetic markers for cheese characteristics. However, milk composition traits also affected the obtained results, thus making it necessary to thoroughly assess the different aspects regarding the influence of gene effects on cheese characteristics before directly selecting for certain alleles or genetic variants to improve the processing and quality of cheese.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caseins / genetics
  • Cheese / analysis*
  • Diacylglycerol O-Acyltransferase / genetics*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Lactoglobulins / genetics
  • Leptin / genetics*
  • Milk Proteins / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Receptors, Leptin / genetics*


  • Caseins
  • Genetic Markers
  • Lactoglobulins
  • Leptin
  • Milk Proteins
  • Receptors, Leptin
  • Diacylglycerol O-Acyltransferase