Characterization of the novel duplicated PRLR gene at the late-feathering K locus in Lohmann chickens

    1. Yajun Wang
    1. Key Laboratory of Bio-resources and Eco-environment of Ministry of Education, College of Life Sciences, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610065, People's Republic of China
    1. (Correspondence should be addressed to Y Wang; Email: cdwyjhk{at}


    A partial duplication of the prolactin (PRL) receptor gene (designated as dPRLR) has been identified at the late-feathering (LF) K locus on chromosome Z of some chicken strains recently, implying that dPRLR is probably a candidate gene associated with LF development in chickens. However, little is known about the structure, functionality, and spatiotemporal expression of the dPRLR gene in chickens. In this study, using 3′-RACE and RT-PCR, the full-length cDNA of the dPRLR obtained from the kidneys of male Lohmann layer chickens carrying a K allele was cloned. The cloned dPRLR is predicted to encode a membrane-spanning receptor of 683 amino acids, which is nearly identical to the original PRLR, except for its lack of a 149-amino acid C-terminal tail. Using a 5× STAT5–Luciferase reporter system and western blot analysis, we demonstrated that dPRLR expressed in HepG2 cells could be potently activated by chicken PRL and functionally coupled to the intracellular STAT5 signaling pathway, suggesting that dPRLR may function as a novel receptor for PRL. RT-PCR assays revealed that similar to the original PRLR gene, dPRLR mRNA is widely expressed in all embryonic and adult tissues examined including the skin of male Lohmann chickens with a K allele. These findings, together with the expression of PRL mRNA detected in the skin of embryos at embryonic day 20 and 1-week-old chicks, suggest that skin-expressed dPRLR and PRLR, together with plasma and skin-derived PRL, may be involved in the control of the LF development of chicks at hatching. Moreover, the wide tissue expression of dPRLR implies that dPRLR may regulate other physiological processes of chickens carrying the K allele.

    • Revision received 3 August 2013
    • Accepted 12 August 2013
    • Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 12 August 2013
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