Estrogen promotes hepatic synthesis of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids by regulating ELOVL5 at post-transcriptional level in laying hens

Meng Zhang, Cui Cui Li, Fang Li, Hong Li, Xiao Jun Liu, Juan J. Loor, Xiang Tao Kang, Gui Rong Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The very long chain fatty acid elongase (ELOVL) plays an important role in the synthesis of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA). Previous studies suggest that chicken could be an alternate source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In this study, we detected that ELOVL5, which plays a key role in the biosynthesis of omega-3 (n-3) and omega-6 (n-6) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), was highly expressed in the liver of laying hens and increased rapidly after sexual maturity. Bioinformatic analysis revealed ELOVL fatty acid elongase 5 (ELOVL5) gene as a putative target of miR-218-5p, miR-19a-3p, miR-19b-3p, miR-30a-5p, miR-30b-5p, and miR-30e-5p. We demonstrated estrogen downregulated microRNA (miRNA), and that ELOVL5 is a direct target of miR-218-5p, which was located in intron 14 of the Slit guidance ligand 2 (SLIT2) gene and co-expressed with the host gene. Overall, estrogen enhanced hepatic synthesis of LCPUFA by functioning as a negative regulator of miRNA thereby augmenting the expression of these miRNA target genes, especially ELOVL5, which plays a key role in the biosynthesis of n-3 and n-6 LCPUFA. This study provides a novel model for the use of estrogen in the poultry industry as an inducer of ELOVL5 expression to enhance hepatic n-3 and n-6 LCPUFA synthesis at the post-transcriptional level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1405
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2017



  • Chicken
  • ELOVL5
  • Estrogen
  • Liver
  • MiRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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