Association between somatotropic axis gene polymorphisms and reproductive efficiency of bovine females: a review

Geciele Santos Cruz Regianne Maciel dos Santos Correa Daralyns Borges Macedo Lucas Luz Emerick Erick Fonseca de Castilho Marília Danyelle Nunes Rodrigues About the authors

Abstract

Reproductive characteristics directly reflect on productive performance, as they determine the number of calves born annually and the interval between generations, thereby affecting the selection intensity. This allows for the determination of the most important economic variables that directly affect the production system. The present study is a literature review of somatotropic axis gene polymorphisms that are associated with reproductive functions in heifers and cows (Bos taurus taurus and Bos taurus indicus). The following characteristics were analyzed from the various studies reviewed: number of services per pregnancy (Nº services/ pregnancy), age at first calving (AFC), calving interval (CI), and period of service calving conception interval (CCI). The research was conducted during the period from 2011 to 2021, and associations were found among all indicators of reproductive efficiency evaluated in heifers and cows, with 27 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs): 18 in GHR, 5 in IGF-I, and 4 in STAT5A. This study revealed the relationships between SNPs and the reproductive efficiency indicators and demonstrated that molecular genetic techniques enhance the animal selection process, resulting in more profitable systems that are sustainable in the long term.

Keywords:
Molecular genetics; IGF-I; Animal reproduction; SNPs; STAT5A

Resumo

Características reprodutivas refletem diretamente no desempenho produtivo visto que são capazes de determinar o número de bezerros nascidos anualmente, além de afetar o intervalo entre gerações e, consequentemente, a intensidade de seleção, fazendo com o que tais atributos sejam apontados como variáveis econômicas das mais importantes que afetam diretamente o sistema de produção. O presente estudo propõe realizar uma revisão de literatura de polimorfismos de genes do eixo somatotrópico associados a funções reprodutivas em novilhas e vacas (Bos taurus taurus e Bos taurus indicus), indicadas pelos índices: número de serviços por gestação (Nº serviços/gestação), idade ao primeiro parto (IPP), intervalo de partos (IP) e período de serviço, como também denominado de intervalo parto-concepção (IPC). As pesquisas encontradas durante o período de 2011 a 2021 demonstraram associações entre todos os indicadores de eficiência reprodutiva analisados de novilhas e vacas com 27 polimorfismos de nucleotídeo único (SNPs), sendo 18 em GHR, 5 em IGF-I e 4 em STAT5A. Dessa forma, este estudo mostrou relação entre os SNPs e os indicadores de eficiência reprodutiva, demonstrando que técnicas de genética molecular potencializam o processo de seleção dos animais, resultando em sistemas mais lucrativos e que se sustentam a longo prazo.

Palavras-chave:
Genética molecular; IGF-I; Reprodução animal; SNPs; STAT5A

Introduction

The reproductive characteristics of heifers affect productive performance, since they can determine the number of calves born annually(11 Buzanskas ME, Pires PS, Chud TCS, Bernardes PA, Rola LD, Savegnago RP, Lôbo RB, Munari DP. Parameter estimates for reproductive and carcass traits in Nelore beef cattle. Theriogenology. 2017;92:204-209. Available from: https://pubmed.nc-bi.nlm.nih.gov/28237337/
https://pubmed.nc-bi.nlm.nih.gov/2823733...
). They are also involved in defining the generation interval, and consequently, the selection intensity(22 Lacerda VV, Campos GS, Roso VM, Souza FRP, Brauner CC, Boligon AA. Effect of mature size and body condition of Nelore females on the reproductive performance. Theriogenology. 2018;118:27-33. Doi: http://doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2018.05.036
http://doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology....
), thereby indicating the economic attributes that substantially affect the production system. According to Grossi et al.(33 Grossi DA, Venturini GC, Paz CC, et al. Genetic associations between age at first calving and heifer body weight and scrotal circumference in Nelore cattle. J Anim Breed Genet. 2009;126(5):387-393. Doi: http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0388.2008.00791.x
http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1439-0388.2008....
), animals that prolong the period prior to reproduction and do not procreate regularly, prove to be unviable for production systems, whether beef or dairy; therefore, animals must be selected that have the essential reproductive characteristics to comprise the herds.

Normally, reproductive traits have low heritability(44 Falconer DS. Introduction to quantitative genetics, 3th ed. Longman Scientific & Technical; 1989. 448p. English. Available from: https://vulms.vu.edu.pk/Courses/GEN733/Downloads/Introduction%20to%20Quantitative%20Genetic-DS%20Falconer.pdf
https://vulms.vu.edu.pk/Courses/GEN733/D...
) and are highly influenced by the environment, which complicates the association of phenotype with reproductive attributes, thereby requiring a more direct analysis of their relationship with genetic aspects. Recently, genotype-based selection(55 Polido PB, Ferreira GF, Alberton O, De Souza SGH. Marcadores moleculares aplicados no melhoramento genético de bovinos. Arquivos de Ciências Veterinárias e Zoologia da UNIPAR. 2012;15(2):161-169. Available from: https://revistas.unipar.br/index.php/veterinaria/article/view/4221
https://revistas.unipar.br/index.php/vet...
) has contributed to reducing some of the limitations of traditional selection methods(66 Silva AA. Valor genético estimado e QTL afetando porcentagem de sólidos totais na raça bovina gir. Revista de Medicina Veterinaria. 2010;20:27-37. Available from: http://www.scielo.org.co/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext-&pid=S0122-93542010000200003
http://www.scielo.org.co/scielo.php?scri...
) and has actively contributed to the progress of animal breeding(77 Montaldo Hugo H., Meza-Herrera Cesar A.. Use of molecular markers and major genes in the genetic improvement of livestock. Electron. J. Biotechnol. [Internet]. 1998 Ago [citado 2022 Mar 12] ; 1( 2 ): 15-16. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-34581998000200004.
http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0717-34581998...
). Molecular markers are tools that allow the identification of genetic variations in DNA, since most of the characteristics of economic interest are quantitative and controlled by several genes whose independent effects contribute to the final phenotype(55 Polido PB, Ferreira GF, Alberton O, De Souza SGH. Marcadores moleculares aplicados no melhoramento genético de bovinos. Arquivos de Ciências Veterinárias e Zoologia da UNIPAR. 2012;15(2):161-169. Available from: https://revistas.unipar.br/index.php/veterinaria/article/view/4221
https://revistas.unipar.br/index.php/vet...
) along with the environment and genotype-environment interactions.

The study of polymorphisms and their association with productivity indices, such as reproductive parameters, will help genetic improvement programs that contribute to the early selection of animals based on characteristics directly linked to the economic success of the activity. Thus, the present study is a literature review of somatotropic axis gene polymorphisms associated with reproductive functions in heifers and cows (Bos taurus taurus and Bos taurus indicus) indicated by the number of services per pregnancy (Nº services/pregnancy), age at first calving (AFC), calving interval (CI), and period of service determined by the calving conception interval (CCI) or number of days open, depending on the reference.

Genetic improvement of cattle

Classical breeding programs use phenotypic information in the form of expected progeny difference (EPD), which is half of the predicted genetic value and represents the expected deviation from the mean of the offspring of a given individual for a certain trait in relation to the genetic basis of the evaluated population. More accurate EPDs correspond to greater genetic progress, as this information is used for selection; therefore, greater gains are achieved as the predicted value approaches the real (true) genetic merit. In addition, highly accurate EPDs that are obtained early allow for more rapid genetic advances of a herd/population as a result of the more intense use of young animals in reproduction(88 Menezes IPP, Gaiotto F, Suassuna N, Hoffmann L, Barroso P. Susceptibility of Gossypium mustelinum Populations to the Main Cotton Diseases in Brazil. Journal of Agricultural Science. 2014;6(3):39-47. Available from: https://ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/jas/article/view/32693
https://ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ja...
). Obtaining high accuracy using this traditional methodology for genetic selection takes time, as the animals need to present offspring for evaluation, especially with regard to reproductive traits.

Since the early 2000s, molecular genetic technologies, which allow access and manipulation of the genome, have rapidly evolved and increased in usage, and several approaches have emerged for genetic improvements using these technologies, including those with the objective of increasing the accuracy of genetic evaluations of beef cattle and enabling a more timely use of young animals. The results from dairy and beef cattle breeding programs conducted in North America and Europe have shown that if genomic data are used in conjunction with phenotypic and genealogical data, the benefits can be significant. Therefore, genomics has brought a vast group of new concepts to breeders/ selectors, such as single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers(88 Menezes IPP, Gaiotto F, Suassuna N, Hoffmann L, Barroso P. Susceptibility of Gossypium mustelinum Populations to the Main Cotton Diseases in Brazil. Journal of Agricultural Science. 2014;6(3):39-47. Available from: https://ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/jas/article/view/32693
https://ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ja...
).

The greatest challenge is determining how knowledge of the genome can be applied viably and effectively to genetically improve beef and dairy cattle(88 Menezes IPP, Gaiotto F, Suassuna N, Hoffmann L, Barroso P. Susceptibility of Gossypium mustelinum Populations to the Main Cotton Diseases in Brazil. Journal of Agricultural Science. 2014;6(3):39-47. Available from: https://ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/jas/article/view/32693
https://ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ja...
). The Zebu Genetic Improvement Program summary, conducted by the Brazilian Association of Zebu Breeders (ABCZ), provides genomic information for the selection of all characteristics presented in the summary through information obtained from several SNPs for each characteristic using a complex matrix and mathematical models(99 Eler JP, Bignardi AB, Ferraz JB, Santana MLJ. Genetic relationships among traits related to reproduction and growth of Nelore females. Theriogenology. 2014;82(5):708-714. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25023297/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25023297...
).

The greatest limitation today no longer relates to understanding the sequence of genes(1010 Paiva JT, Resende MDV, Resende RT, Oliveira HR, Silva HT, et al. Herdabilidade de características de crescimento em bovinos da raça Nelore utilizando métodos da Máxima Verossimilhança Restrita e Inferência Bayesiana. Archivos de Zootecnia. 2019;68(263):440–446. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335562867_Herdabilidade_de_caracteristicas_de_crescimento_em_bovinos_da_raca_Nelore_utilizando_metodos_da_Maxima_Verossimilhanca_Restrita_e_Inferencia_Bayesiana
https://www.researchgate.net/publication...
) or presenting domestic animal data in a practical way(1111 ABCZ, Associação brasileira de criadores de zebu. Avaliação Genética. Versão 3.2.8.18. PMGZ Corte: Programa de Melhoramento Genético Zebuíno, 2022-1. https://www.abczstat.com.br/comunicacoes/sumario/default.aspx?acesso=publico.
https://www.abczstat.com.br/comunicacoes...
), but rather identifying the genes that have the greatest impact on the control of characteristics of zootechnical interest, such as those that confer resistance to diseases (endo-and ectoparasites) and heat, and those that relate to better feed conversion and greater reproductive efficiency(1010 Paiva JT, Resende MDV, Resende RT, Oliveira HR, Silva HT, et al. Herdabilidade de características de crescimento em bovinos da raça Nelore utilizando métodos da Máxima Verossimilhança Restrita e Inferência Bayesiana. Archivos de Zootecnia. 2019;68(263):440–446. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335562867_Herdabilidade_de_caracteristicas_de_crescimento_em_bovinos_da_raca_Nelore_utilizando_metodos_da_Maxima_Verossimilhanca_Restrita_e_Inferencia_Bayesiana
https://www.researchgate.net/publication...
). With the identification and association of these genes or SNPs, selection can become more efficient and greater responses can be achieved in practice. Thus, it appears that the main advantage of genomic selection usage is the increased accuracy of genetic evaluations of animals(1212 Meuwissen TH, Hayes BJ, Goddard ME. Prediction of total genetic value using genome-wide dense marker maps. Genetics. 2001;157(4):1819-1829. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11290733/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11290733...
) in cases where phenotypic expression is greatly influenced by uncontrolled sources of variation, such as that of reproductive traits, individuals who are not phenotyped, and/or those with no or few evaluated offspring (applying AFC)(99 Eler JP, Bignardi AB, Ferraz JB, Santana MLJ. Genetic relationships among traits related to reproduction and growth of Nelore females. Theriogenology. 2014;82(5):708-714. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25023297/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25023297...
).

Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) markers

Recent advances in high-throughput DNA sequencing, software, and bioinformatics have facilitated the identification of SNP markers from amplified segments of genomic DNA(1313 Zhang T, Guo L, Shi M, et al. Selection and effectiveness of informative SNPs for paternity in Chinese Simmental cattle based on a high-density SNP array. Gene. 2018;673:211-216. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29933017/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29933017...
), which aid in the identification of favorable alleles for selection in different fields of animal production. Sharifiyazdi, Mirzaei, and Ghanaatian(1414 Sharifiyazdi H, Mirzaei A, Ghanaatian Z. Characterization of polymorphism in the FSH receptor gene and its impact on some reproductive indices in dairy cows. Animal Reproduction Science. 2018;188:45-50. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378432017305304
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar...
) investigated point mutations (A/G: position -278) in the 5' region of the gene responsible for the expression of the follicle stimulating hormone receptor (FSHR) of Iranian dairy cattle, and found an association between this mutation and reproductive parameters. Cows that did not present the G allele (AA) showed more desirable fertility, with lower average Nº services/ pregnancy (1.98±0.77 vs 2.20±0.85) and number of days open (118.3±42 vs 118.7±49.3).

For beef cattle, Meyer et al.(1515 Meyer L, Powell J, Kutz B, Looper M, Brown JAH, Rosenkrans JC. Associations of single nucleotide polymorphisms in the bovine prolactin gene with phenotypic traits in beef cattle. Agri Gene. 2017;5:7-11. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2352215117300090?via%3Dihub
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar...
) associated polymorphisms present in the bovine prolactin (Prl) gene with other phenotypic characteristics, and found six haplotypes for the bovine Prl gene, with emphasis on the CAG haplotype. Animals had higher birth rates (96, 91, 90, 81, 86, and 81%) and higher pregnancy rates (43.4, 42.7, 42.8, 42.8, 40.8, and 37.7%, p<0.05) when they presented this haplotype.

Another study identified two polymorphisms in the PPP3CA gene (protein phosphatase 3 - catalytic subunit, alpha isoenzyme) and 13 in the FABPA gene (fatty acid binding protein 4), whereby two SNPs located in the FABP4 gene (rs109014985 and rs134173517) exerted a significant effect on the probability of early pregnancy at 16 months (P16) in Nelore heifers (P <0.05)(1616 Barbero, MMD, Santos DJA, Takada L, De Camargo GMF, Freitas AC, Diaz, ISDP, De Souza FRP, Tonhati H,Albuquerque LG, Oliveira HN. Prospecting polymorphisms in the PPP3CA and FABP4 genes and their association with early pregnancy probability in Nellore heifers. Livestock Science. 2017;203:76-81. Available from: https://repositorio.unesp.br/handle/11449/174937
https://repositorio.unesp.br/handle/1144...
), demonstrating the contribution of this gene, and consequently, of lipid metabolism, to reproduction. The aspects described above demonstrate the increasing use of the association of SNPs with characteristics of zootechnical interest, particularly those in relation to reproduction.

Relationships among the somatotropic axis and SNPs of the GHR, IGF-I, and STAT5A genes and their effect on reproductive physiology

Growth regulation is guided by the growth hormone-insulin-like growth factor type I (GHIGF-I) axis, also called the somatotropic axis (Figure 1).

Figure 1
Anatomophysiological model of the somatotropic axis.

The hypothalamus produces and secretes growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH), which acts on the anterior pituitary gland to stimulate somatotropic production of GH (somatotropin). This stimulates target organs and tissues, especially the liver, to produce and release IGF-I or somatomedin, which mediates the retroactivity of the GH–IGF-I system(1717 Jones JI, Clemmons DR. Insulin-like growth factors and their binding proteins: biological actions. Endocrine Reviews. 1995;16(1):3-34. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7758431/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7758431/...
). In addition, GH promotes IGF-I gene expression through the activation of intracellular Janus kinase and signal transducer and transcriptional activator (STAT) families, such as STAT5A(1818 Argetsinger LS, Campbell GS, Yang X, Witthuhn BA, Silvennoinen O, Ihle JN, Carter-Se C. Identification of JAK2 as a growth hormone receptor-associated tyrosine kinase. Cell. 1993;74(2):237-244. Available from: https://www.cell.com/fulltext/0092-8674(93)90415-M
https://www.cell.com/fulltext/0092-8674(...
). This pathway is essential for cell growth, differentiation, and development of various tissues, particularly the modulation and amplification of gonadotropin, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH) activities during follicular growth in the ovary(1919 Armstrong DG, Webb R. Ovarian follicular dominance: the role of intraovarian growth factors and novel proteins. Reviews of Reproduction. 1997;2(3):139-146. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9414477/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9414477/...
).

In cattle, GH and IGF-I receptor genes are expressed in several tissues, and their differential regulation occurs in the liver and tissues of the reproductive system(2020 Rhoads ML, Meyer JP, Lamberson WR, Keisler DH, Lucy MC. Uterine and hepatic gene expression in relation to days postpartum, estrus, and pregnancy in postpartum dairy cows. Journal of Dairy Science. 2008;91(1):140-150. Available from: https://www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302(08)71447-4/fulltext
https://www.journalofdairyscience.org/ar...
). In the postpartum period of high-production dairy cows, negative energy balance (NEBAL) is associated with the loss of body condition and delay in the return of cyclic luteal ovarian activities, resulting in ovulation failure and reduced conception rates after delivery (2121 Butler WR. Energy balance relationships with follicular development, ovulation and fertility in postpartum dairy cows. Livestock Production Science. 2003;83:211-218. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S030162260300112X
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar...
). The link between NEBAL and reproductive failure during this period has been justified by the uncoupling of the secretion of GH and IGF-I by the liver due to the reduction in the release of insulin(1919 Armstrong DG, Webb R. Ovarian follicular dominance: the role of intraovarian growth factors and novel proteins. Reviews of Reproduction. 1997;2(3):139-146. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9414477/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9414477/...
).

The genes that encode GH and IGF-I form the somatotropic axis, along with the related receptors and several signaling proteins present in cells, such as signal transducer and activator 5A (STAT5A); therefore, the somatotropic axis is the main regulator of both reproductive physiology and mammalian metabolism(1717 Jones JI, Clemmons DR. Insulin-like growth factors and their binding proteins: biological actions. Endocrine Reviews. 1995;16(1):3-34. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7758431/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7758431/...
). Polymorphism is directly and indirectly related to the phenotype in these genes, mainly in relation to milk composition and synthesis (2222 Song N, Luo J, Huang L, Zang S, He Q, Wu J, Huang J. Mutation of Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription 5 (STAT5) Binding Sites Decreases Milk Allergen αS1-Casein Content in Goat Mammary Epithelial Cells. Foods. 2022;11(3): 346. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/5159497/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/5159497/...
), meat and carcass production properties(2323 Darwash AO, Lamming GE, Woolliams JA. Estimation of Genetic Variation in the Interval from Calving to Postpartum Ovulation of Dairy Cows. Journal of Dairy Science. 1997;80(6),1227-1234. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9201595/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9201595/...
) and reproductive activities(2424 Schneider A, Corrêa MN, Butler WR. Association between growth hormone receptor AluI polymorphism and fertility of Holstein cows. Theriogenology. 2013;80(9):1061-1066. Available from: https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/612321
https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/61232...
).

Hax et al.(2525 Hax LT, SchneiderA, Jacometo CB, Mattei, Silva TC, Farina G, Corrêa MN. Association between polymorphisms in somatotropic axis genes and fertility of Holstein dairy cows. Theriogenology. 2017;88:67-72. Available from: https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/5252267
https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/52522...
) found no association between the polymorphisms AluI (Gene GHR) and SnaBI (Gene IGF-I) present in genes of the somatotropic axis and reproductive performance in Holstein dairy cows; however, they observed that the BstEII (+) SNP (Gene STAT5A) was associated with a shorter calving first heat interval. They suggested that this gene can be used as a molecular marker to enhance the reproductive performance of Holstein herds, and that future research could extend the study to different categories, such as heifers, beef cows, and different subspecies.

Relationships among SNPs in the GHR, IGF-I, and STAT5A genes and reproductive efficiency indicators

The bibliographic research mainly obtained information from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), which was searched using the PubMed platform and the names of genes and reproductive parameters as keywords over a ten years period, 2011 – 2021. The selected data were race, heifer or cow, genotype, polymorphic allele, genotypic frequency, allele frequency, location of the polymorphism, Nº services/pregnancy, AFC, CI, and CCI. After selection, the data were organized in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet for further comparative analysis of the effects of GHR, IGF-I, and STAT5A markers on reproduction characteristics.

In 2011, 2012, 2014, 2018, 2019, and 2020, one article was published per year; two articles per year were published in 2013 and 2017; no reports were found in 2015, 2016, and 2021; and the most recent publication occurred in 2020 (Figure 2). The high cost of the technology and methods used to obtain the data may limit the performance of this type of research, which explains the lack of available information in the literature.

Figure 2
Evolution of the last 10 years (2011-2021) of updated scientific publications, seeking association of polymorphisms present in the GHR, IGF-I and STAT5A genes with the reproductive performance of cows and heifers using the PubMed platform.

The research found during these 10 years showed and correlated the SNPs with the reproductive characteristics in heifers and cows, with a total of 27 SNPs: 18 in GHR, 5 in IGF-I, and 4 in STAT5A. Tables 1, 2, and 3 show the information on the location of the SNPs, as well as the indices and/or characteristics evaluated, such as the Nº services/pregnancy, CI, CCI, and AFC. All studies were conducted on taurine species and aimed at heifers and cows in the lactation period. From the studies analyzed for the GHR gene, all SNPs were tested with cows, whereas for the IGF-I gene four SNPs were tested with cows and one with heifers, and for the STAT5A gene, three SNPs were tested with cows and one with heifers.

Table 1
GHR SNPs associated with increase, decrease or maintenance of reproductive characteristics such as calving interval (CI), calving conception interval (CCI), age at first calving (AFC) and number of services per pregnancy (Nº services/pregnancy)
Table 2
IGF-I SNPs associated with increase, decrease or maintenance of reproductive characteristics such as calving interval (CI), calving conception interval (CCI), age at first calving (AFC) and number of services per pregnancy (Nº services/pregnancy)
Table 3
STAT5A SNPs associated with increase, decrease or maintenance of reproductive characteristics such as calving interval (CI), calving conception interval (CCI), age at first calving (AFC) and number of services per pregnancy (Nº services/pregnancy)

GH promotes physiological processes involved in milk production and postnatal growth in cattle(3434 Etherton TD, Bauman DE. Biology of Somatotropin in Growth and Lactation of Domestic Animals. Physiological Reviews. 1998;78:745–61. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9674693/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9674693/...
). Several studies have shown that the IGF-I gene plays an important role in lactation, by indicating the energy balance at the beginning of lactation and maintaining ovarian function(3535 Lucy MC, McDougall S, Nation DP. The use of hormonal treatments to improve the reproductive performance of lactating dairy cows in feedlot or pasture-based management systems. Animal Reproduction Science. 2004;82-83:495-512. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15271476/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15271476...
). Therefore, Pryce et al.(3636 Pryce JE, Royal MD, Garnsworthy PC, Mao IL. Fertility in the high-producing dairy cow. Livestock Production Science. 2004; 86(1-3):125–135. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0301622603001453
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/ar...
) suggested that if this gene is considered for genomic selection, high concentrations of the IGF-I hormone will promote an improvement in reproductive indices and increase the performance of animals in bovine genetic improvement programs. Aggrey et al.(3737 Aggrey SE, Yao J, Sabour MP, Lin CY, Zadworny D, Hayes JF, Kuhnlein U. Markers within the regulatory region of the growth hormone receptor gene and their association with milk-related traits in Holsteins. The Journal of heredity. 1999;90(1):148–151. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9987923/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9987923/...
) identified GHR/AluI (switch from A to T, located at position 1182) as a polymorphism. The effects of the GHR/AluI SNP on the reproductive function of 94 Holstein cows were also evaluated by studying two reproductive indicators, the Nº services/ pregnancy and CCI(2323 Darwash AO, Lamming GE, Woolliams JA. Estimation of Genetic Variation in the Interval from Calving to Postpartum Ovulation of Dairy Cows. Journal of Dairy Science. 1997;80(6),1227-1234. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9201595/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9201595/...
). Schneider et al.(2424 Schneider A, Corrêa MN, Butler WR. Association between growth hormone receptor AluI polymorphism and fertility of Holstein cows. Theriogenology. 2013;80(9):1061-1066. Available from: https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/612321
https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/61232...
) observed a linear reduction in CCI and a reduction in the number of AI/conceptions.

Leyva-Corona et al.(2626 Leyva-Corona JC, Reyna-Granados JR, Zamorano-Algandar R, Sanchez-Castro MA, Thomas MG, EnnsRM, Speidel SE, Medrano JF, Rincon G, Luna-Nevarez P. Polymorphisms within the prolactin and growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 functional pathways associated with fertility traits in Holstein cows raised in a hot-humid climate. Tropical Animal Health and Production. 2018;50, 1913–1920. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11250-018-1645-0#citeas
https://link.springer.com/article/10.100...
) studied the effect of GHR gene SNPs (rs41639262) and the IGF-I gene marker (rs109763947) on traits that indicate reproductive efficiency, using 659 Holstein cows raised in an artificial hot-humid climate. The reproductive indicator evaluated in this study was the CCI, which is classified as a molecular marker suggested for a selection program to improve the fertility and production of dairy cattle, since the CCI was significantly reduced in this study. Abdolmohammadi et al.(3030 Abdolmohammadi A, Zamani P. SNP exploring in the middle and terminal regions of the IGF-1 gene and association with production and reproduction traits in Holstein cattle. Gene. 2014;25;540(1):92-5. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24530703/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24530703...
) evaluated the influence of the C allele (T/C transition) in the middle and terminal regions of the IGF-I gene on the reproductive performance of Iranian Holstein females. All indices evaluated showed good zootechnical performance related to the SNP; however, the difference was not significant (p > 0.05); therefore, it was classified as a nonfunctional variant. The CI values did not change in the presence of the polymorphism.

The collected bibliographic research showed a numerical relationship between the effect of SNPs on the indicators of reproductive efficiency CCI, AFC, CI, and Nº services/pregnancy of cows and heifers. This can be observed in the comparisons in Tables 4, 5, and 6. CCI is interlinked with several factors, such as the voluntary waiting period (defined by each farm), heat detection and conception rate, artificial insemination (AI) techniques, birth season, breed, herd size, herd production, and lactation number of cows(3838 Pinedo PJ, De Vries A. Effect of days to conception in the previous lactation on the risk of death and live culling around calving. Journal of dairy science. 2010;93(3):968-77. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20172217/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20172217...
). As shown in Table 4, this period has been commonly used and has been successful for reproductive management, as cows with higher CCI have more health problems, greater chances of beinged, and increased risks of weight loss until the end of lactation (the milk production of these cows drops at a faster rate than the dry matter intake), causing increased feeding, which raises the cost of production(3838 Pinedo PJ, De Vries A. Effect of days to conception in the previous lactation on the risk of death and live culling around calving. Journal of dairy science. 2010;93(3):968-77. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20172217/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20172217...
).

Table 4
Relationship between SNPs and the increase, decrease or maintenance of the calving-conception interval (CCI) reproductive efficiency indicator, for cows and heifers
Table 5
Relationship between SNPs and the age at first calving (AFC) reproductive efficiency indicator for cows and heifers
Table 6
Relationship between SNPs and increase, decrease or maintenance of the calving interval (CI) reproductive efficiency indicator for cows and heifers

In contrast, Shirasuna et al.(3939 Shirasuna K, Kawashima C, Murayama C, et al. Relationships between the first ovulation postpartum and polymorphism in genes relating to function of immunity, metabolism and reproduction in high-producing dairy cows. The Journal of reproduction and development. 2011;57(1):135-142. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21071888/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21071888...
) and Hax et al.(2525 Hax LT, SchneiderA, Jacometo CB, Mattei, Silva TC, Farina G, Corrêa MN. Association between polymorphisms in somatotropic axis genes and fertility of Holstein dairy cows. Theriogenology. 2017;88:67-72. Available from: https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/5252267
https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/52522...
) found lower CCI in cows with the G allele for the polymorphism in the STAT5A gene. The effect of this allele may be due to the role of the gene in the GH signaling pathway, as STAT proteins are activated to regulate gene transcription, which increases the level of IGF-I. This hormone increases estradiol production in the follicle, triggering early ovulation(4040 Butler ST, Pelton SH, Butler WR. Insulin increases 17 betaestradiol production by the dominant follicle of the first postpartum follicle wave in dairy cows. Reproduction. 2004;127(5):537-545. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15129009/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15129009...
). Homer et al.(4141 Homer EM, Derecka K, Webb R, Garnsworthy PC. Mutations in genes involved in oestrous cycle associated expression of oestrus. Animal Reproduction Science. 2013;142(3-4):106–112. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24139696/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24139696...
) found that cows with the G allele for the STAT5A gene presented higher estrus expression, which may be due to the greater increase in estradiol production in the follicle.

AFC is considered a selection method as it is directly related to age at puberty. Earlier puberty allows females to become productive sooner and increase the number of pregnancies during their lifetimes, which results in greater amounts of milk produced and number of calves available for replacement or sale, thereby increasing the cash flow of the farm(4242 Bergamaschi MACM, Machado R, Barbosa RT. Eficiência reprodutiva das vacas leiteiras. Circular técnico – EMBRAPA, São Carlos-SP, 2010. Available from: http://www.infoteca.cnptia.embrapa.br/infoteca/handle/doc/880245
http://www.infoteca.cnptia.embrapa.br/in...
).

The T/C transition located in the promoter region of the IGF-I gene may indicate the serum concentration of IGF-I in Holstein cows from Iran. The variant has been reported in this population of dairy cattle from Iran as not functional, and it is likely that the low association of the SNP (given by the significance value) with these characteristics relates to a linkage disequilibrium with other variants at the IGF-I or quantitative trait loci (QTL) that are reported in this location(3030 Abdolmohammadi A, Zamani P. SNP exploring in the middle and terminal regions of the IGF-1 gene and association with production and reproduction traits in Holstein cattle. Gene. 2014;25;540(1):92-5. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24530703/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24530703...
) (Table 5).

Waters et al.(2727 Waters SM, McCabe MS, Howard DJ, Giblin L, Magee DA, MacHugh DE, Berry DP. Associations between newly discovered polymorphisms in the Bos taurus growth hormone receptor gene and performance traits in Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle. Animal Genetics. 2011;42(1):39-49. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20528848/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20528848...
) genotyped 13 SNPs and correlated them with milk production, fat production, protein production/fat percentage, protein percentage, somatic cell score, survival, growth characteristics, and calving interval (Table 6).

The CI can be defined as the period between two consecutive calvings, and it measures both individual and herd reproductive efficiency. To obtain the maximum milk production/day, calving should be maintained at intervals of 12 to 14 months. Longer CIs can cause the next parturition to be delayed, thus increasing the time to the next progeny and the next lactation and decreasing production; hence, it is important to maintain focus on the zootechnical indicators(4242 Bergamaschi MACM, Machado R, Barbosa RT. Eficiência reprodutiva das vacas leiteiras. Circular técnico – EMBRAPA, São Carlos-SP, 2010. Available from: http://www.infoteca.cnptia.embrapa.br/infoteca/handle/doc/880245
http://www.infoteca.cnptia.embrapa.br/in...
). Fedota et al.(2828 Fedota OM, Lysenko NG, Ruban SYu, Kolisnyk OI, Goraychuk IV. The effects of polymorphisms in growth hormone and growth hormone receptor genes on production and reproduction traits in Aberdeen-Angus cattle (Bos taurus L., 1758). Cytology and Genetics. 2017;51(5):352-360. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.3103/S0095452717050024
https://link.springer.com/article/10.310...
) analyzed the reproductive characteristics of A. angus cows and showed that the CI in cows with the CC genotype of the marker g.2141C> G in the GHR gene was, on average, two months shorter than the interval in cows with other genotypes, and the number of C alleles showed a high correlation with the decrease in CI (r = 0.94, p < 0.05) (Table 6).

The Nº services/pregnancy was described by Bergamaschi et al.(4242 Bergamaschi MACM, Machado R, Barbosa RT. Eficiência reprodutiva das vacas leiteiras. Circular técnico – EMBRAPA, São Carlos-SP, 2010. Available from: http://www.infoteca.cnptia.embrapa.br/infoteca/handle/doc/880245
http://www.infoteca.cnptia.embrapa.br/in...
) as the number of matings or AI divided by the total number of cows that became pregnant. Table 7 shows this as the number of times AI was performed before the heifers or cows conceived. Analyzing the relationship between GHR AluI, IGF-I/ SnaBI, and STAT5A/BstEII SNPs, Hax et al. (2017)(2525 Hax LT, SchneiderA, Jacometo CB, Mattei, Silva TC, Farina G, Corrêa MN. Association between polymorphisms in somatotropic axis genes and fertility of Holstein dairy cows. Theriogenology. 2017;88:67-72. Available from: https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/5252267
https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/52522...
) found no significant difference (Table 7), with an average of 2.43 Nº services/pregnancy, suggesting that the use of these markers is better studied along with the productive and reproductive systems adopted on the farm. Schneider et al.(2424 Schneider A, Corrêa MN, Butler WR. Association between growth hormone receptor AluI polymorphism and fertility of Holstein cows. Theriogenology. 2013;80(9):1061-1066. Available from: https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/612321
https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/61232...
) detected a lower Nº services/pregnancy for cows carrying at least one GHR AluI allele and that the presence of GHR AluI is associated with increased concentrations of IGF-I in postpartum blood plasma.

Table 7
Relationship between SNPs and the increase, decrease or maintenance of the reproductive efficiency indicator number of services per pregnancy (Nº services/pregnancy) for cows and heifers

The reproductive characteristics of herds are directly linked to the profitability of the system and require intense investigation to increase productivity. Kawashima et al.(4343 Kawashima C, Munakata M, Shimizu T, Miyamoto A, Kida K, Matsui M. Relationship between the degree of insulin resistance during late gestation and postpartum performance in dairy cows and factors that affect growth and metabolic status of their calves. The Journal of Veterinary Medical Science. Available from: 2016;78(5):739-745. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4905825/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/article...
) observed that during the postpartum period, cows that ovulated earlier had higher concentrations of IGF-I and lower amounts of GH than those that ovulated later, indicating the relationship between the GHR genotype and its gene expression, and the concentration of IGF-I. Therefore, the relationship between SNPs present in genes that encode the somatotropic axis and the reproductive performance of cattle should be studied(2424 Schneider A, Corrêa MN, Butler WR. Association between growth hormone receptor AluI polymorphism and fertility of Holstein cows. Theriogenology. 2013;80(9):1061-1066. Available from: https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/612321
https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/61232...
), especially in females that are in the first breeding season (heifers) because this information is still incomplete, and somewhat incipient in the literature.

Given the knowledge between associations with the polymorphic variants of genes involved in reproduction and phenotypic characteristics, it is possible to use selection methods and techniques involving molecular markers for improved animal productivity and efficiency(4444 Clempson A, Pollott GE, Brickell JS, Wathes DC. Associations Between Bovine IGFBP2 Polymorphisms with Fertility, Milk Production, and Metabolic Status in UK Dairy Cows. Animal Biotechnology. 2012;23(2):101-13. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10495398.2011.650775
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10....
). The frequencies of alleles and genotypes studied and used as a basis for this review(3232 Oikonomou G, Michailidis G, Kougioumtzis A, Avdi M, Banos G. Effect of polymorphisms at the STAT5A and FGF2 gene loci on reproduction, milk yield and lameness of Holstein cows. Research in Veterinary Science. 2011;91(2):235-239. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21310447/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21310447...
,2727 Waters SM, McCabe MS, Howard DJ, Giblin L, Magee DA, MacHugh DE, Berry DP. Associations between newly discovered polymorphisms in the Bos taurus growth hormone receptor gene and performance traits in Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle. Animal Genetics. 2011;42(1):39-49. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20528848/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20528848...
,3131 Nicolini P, Carriquiry M, Meikle A. A polymorphism in the insulin-like growth factor 1 gene is associated with postpartum resumption of ovarian cyclicity in Holstein-Friesian cows under grazing conditions. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica. 2013;55(1):11. Published 2013 Feb 14. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23409757/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23409757...
,2323 Darwash AO, Lamming GE, Woolliams JA. Estimation of Genetic Variation in the Interval from Calving to Postpartum Ovulation of Dairy Cows. Journal of Dairy Science. 1997;80(6),1227-1234. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9201595/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9201595/...
,3030 Abdolmohammadi A, Zamani P. SNP exploring in the middle and terminal regions of the IGF-1 gene and association with production and reproduction traits in Holstein cattle. Gene. 2014;25;540(1):92-5. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24530703/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24530703...
,2828 Fedota OM, Lysenko NG, Ruban SYu, Kolisnyk OI, Goraychuk IV. The effects of polymorphisms in growth hormone and growth hormone receptor genes on production and reproduction traits in Aberdeen-Angus cattle (Bos taurus L., 1758). Cytology and Genetics. 2017;51(5):352-360. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.3103/S0095452717050024
https://link.springer.com/article/10.310...
,2424 Schneider A, Corrêa MN, Butler WR. Association between growth hormone receptor AluI polymorphism and fertility of Holstein cows. Theriogenology. 2013;80(9):1061-1066. Available from: https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/612321
https://pubag.nal.usda.gov/catalog/61232...
,2626 Leyva-Corona JC, Reyna-Granados JR, Zamorano-Algandar R, Sanchez-Castro MA, Thomas MG, EnnsRM, Speidel SE, Medrano JF, Rincon G, Luna-Nevarez P. Polymorphisms within the prolactin and growth hormone/insulin-like growth factor-1 functional pathways associated with fertility traits in Holstein cows raised in a hot-humid climate. Tropical Animal Health and Production. 2018;50, 1913–1920. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11250-018-1645-0#citeas
https://link.springer.com/article/10.100...
,2929 Silva Silveira PA, Butler WR, da Silva TC, Barros CC, Corrêa MN, SchneiderA.Association of polymorphisms in the IGF-I, GHR and STAT5A genes with serum IGF-I concentration and reproductive performance of Holstein dairy cows. Animal reproduction science. 2019;211:106206. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31785637/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31785637...
,3333 Michel-Regalado NG, Ayala-Valdovinos MÁ, Galindo-Garcia J, Duifhuis-Rivera T, Sánchez-Chiprés DR, Valencia-Posadas M. Effect of COQ9 and STAT5A polymorphisms on reproductive performance in a Holstein cow herd in Mexico. Animal Reproduction. 2020;17(3): e20200039. Available from: https://www.animal-reproduction.org/article/doi/10.1590/1984-3143-AR2020-0039
https://www.animal-reproduction.org/arti...
) are available for consultation in the supplementary material.

Final considerations

In addition to the adoption of crosses based on phenotypes for genetic gain and increased productivity, molecular genetic techniques allow for the earlier selection of these animals based on their genotypes, thereby achieving the same objectives, with possible superior efficiency. The use of SNPs located in the genes of the somatotropic axis constitutes an important tool in the selection of bovines, as it reduces time, saves financial resources, and decreases expenses, as it allows for the identification of the genetic potential of individuals at the beginning of their lives. This information enhances the animal selection process and results in more profitable and sustainable systems.

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    Waters SM, McCabe MS, Howard DJ, Giblin L, Magee DA, MacHugh DE, Berry DP. Associations between newly discovered polymorphisms in the Bos taurus growth hormone receptor gene and performance traits in Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle. Animal Genetics. 2011;42(1):39-49. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20528848/
    » https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20528848/
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    Fedota OM, Lysenko NG, Ruban SYu, Kolisnyk OI, Goraychuk IV. The effects of polymorphisms in growth hormone and growth hormone receptor genes on production and reproduction traits in Aberdeen-Angus cattle (Bos taurus L., 1758). Cytology and Genetics. 2017;51(5):352-360. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.3103/S0095452717050024
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    Silva Silveira PA, Butler WR, da Silva TC, Barros CC, Corrêa MN, SchneiderA.Association of polymorphisms in the IGF-I, GHR and STAT5A genes with serum IGF-I concentration and reproductive performance of Holstein dairy cows. Animal reproduction science. 2019;211:106206. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31785637/
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    Abdolmohammadi A, Zamani P. SNP exploring in the middle and terminal regions of the IGF-1 gene and association with production and reproduction traits in Holstein cattle. Gene. 2014;25;540(1):92-5. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24530703/
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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    15 Aug 2022
  • Date of issue
    2022

History

  • Received
    29 Mar 2022
  • Accepted
    26 May 2022
  • Published
    13 July 2022
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