Transcriptional Characterization of Porcine Leptin and Leptin Receptor Genes

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 18;8(6):e66398. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066398. Print 2013.


The leptin (LEP) and its receptor (LEPR) regulate food intake and energy balance through hypothalamic signaling. However, the LEP-LEPR axis seems to be more complex and its expression regulation has not been well described. In pigs, LEP and LEPR genes have been widely studied due to their relevance. Previous studies reported significant effects of SNPs located in both genes on growth and fatness traits. The aim of this study was to determine the expression profiles of LEP and LEPR across hypothalamic, adipose, hepatic and muscle tissues in Iberian x Landrace backcrossed pigs and to analyze the effects of gene variants on transcript abundance. To our knowledge, non porcine LEPR isoforms have been described rather than LEPRb. A short porcine LEPR isoform (LEPRa), that encodes a protein lacking the intracellular residues responsible of signal transduction, has been identified for the first time. The LEPRb isoform was only quantifiable in hypothalamus while LEPRa appeared widely expressed across tissues, but at higher levels in liver, suggesting that both isoforms would develop different roles. The unique LEP transcript showed expression in backfat and muscle. The effects of gene variants on transcript expression revealed interesting results. The LEPRc.1987C>T polymorphism showed opposite effects on LEPRb and LEPRa hypothalamic expression. In addition, one out of the 16 polymorphisms identified in the LEPR promoter region revealed high differential expression in hepatic LEPRa. These results suggest a LEPR isoform-specific regulation at tissue level. Conversely, non-differential expression of LEP conditional on the analyzed polymorphisms could be detected, indicating that its regulation is likely affected by other mechanisms rather than gene sequence variants. The present study has allowed a transcriptional characterization of LEP and LEPR isoforms on a range of tissues. Their expression patterns seem to indicate that both molecules develop peripheral roles apart from their known hypothalamic signal transduction function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Expression
  • Leptin / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • Receptors, Leptin / genetics*
  • Swine
  • Transcription, Genetic*


  • Leptin
  • Receptors, Leptin

Grant support

This work was funded by Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (MICINN) projects AGL2008-04818-C03 and AGL2011-29821-C02-02. D. Pérez-Montarelo was funded by a Formación de Personal Investigador (FPI) PhD grant from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (BES-2009-025417). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.