Association of a new 99-bp indel of the CEL gene promoter region with phenotypic traits in chickens.
Carboxyl ester lipase (CEL) encodes a cholesterol ester hydrolase that is secreted into the duodenum as a component of pancreatic juice. The objective of this study was to characterize the CEL gene, investigate the association between the CEL promoter variants and chicken phenotypic traits, and explore the CEL gene regulatory mechanism. An insertion/deletion (indel) caused by a 99-bp insertion fragment was shown for the first time in the chicken CEL promoter, and large differences in allelic frequency were found among commercial breeds, indigenous and feral birds. Association analysis demonstrated that this indel site had significant effects on shank length, shank girth, chest breadth at 8 weeks (p < 0.01), evisceration weight, sebum weight, breast muscle weight, and leg weight (p < 0.05). Tissue expression profiles showed extremely high levels of the CEL gene in pancreatic tissue. Moreover, the expression levels of the genes APOB, MTTP, APOV1 and SREBF1, which are involved in lipid transport, were significantly reduced by adding a 4% oxidized soybean oil diet treatment at the individual level and transfecting the embryonic primary hepatocytes with a CEL-overexpression vector. Interestingly, the results showed that the expression level of the II homozygous genotype was significantly higher than that of the ID and DD genotypes, while individuals with DD genotypes had higher phenotypic values. Therefore, these data suggested that the CEL gene might affect body growth by participating in hepatic lipoprotein metabolism and that the 99-bp indel polymorphism could be a potentially useful genetic marker for improving the economically important traits of chickens.