Department of Animal Science


Date of this Version



Transgenic Research, 2017 Aug:26(4):567-575.



Copyright (c) The Author(s) 2017. This article is an open access publication.


Swine are the only livestock species that produce both the second mammalian isoform of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GNRH2) and its receptor (GNRHR2). Previously, we reported that GNRH2 and GNRHR2 mediate LH-independent testosterone secretion from porcine testes. To further explore this ligand-receptor complex, a pig model with reduced GNRHR2 expression was developed. Small hairpin RNA sequences targeting porcine GNRHR2 were subcloned into a lentiviral-based vector, lentiviral particles were generated and microinjected into the perivitelline space of zygotes, and embryos were transferred into a recipient. One GNRHR2 knockdown (KD) female was born that subsequently produced 80 piglets from 6 litters with 46 hemizygous progeny (57% transgenic). Hemizygous GNRHR2 KD (n = 10) and littermate control (n = 7) males were monitored at 40, 100, 150, 190, 225 and 300 days of age; body weight and testis size were measured and serum was isolated and assayed for testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH) concentrations. Body weight of GNRHR2 KD boars was not different from littermate controls (P = 0.14), but testes were smaller (P < 0.05; 331.8 vs. 374.8 cm3, respectively). Testosterone concentrations tended (P = 0.06) to be reduced in GNRHR2 KD (1.6 ng/ml) compared to littermate control (4.2 ng/ml) males, but LH levels were similar (P = 0.47). The abundance of GNRHR2 mRNA was reduced (P < 0.001) by 69% in testicular tissue from mature GNRHR2 KD (n = 5) versus littermate control (n = 4) animals. These swine represent the first genetically-engineered model to elucidate the function of GNRH2 and its receptor in mammals.