Functional and association studies on the pig HMGCR gene, a cholesterol-synthesis limiting enzyme

Animal. 2010 Feb;4(2):224-33. doi: 10.1017/S1751731109991145.


The 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase (HMGCR) is the rate-limiting enzyme in the biosynthesis of cholesterol. We have studied the role of the HMGCR gene in pig lipid metabolism by means of expression and structural analysis. We describe here the complete coding region of this gene in pigs and report two synonymous single nucleotide polymorphisms in the coding region. We have, additionally, studied the association of one of these polymorphisms (HMGCR:c.807A>C) with several lipid deposition- and cholesterol-related traits in a half-sib population generated from a commercial Duroc line, showing in some families a positive relationship of HMGCR:c.807A allele with serum low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-bound cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and also with intramuscular fat (IMF) content of gluteus medius muscle. We have also assessed the expression levels in muscle and in liver from 68 Duroc individuals corresponding to the most extreme animals for the analysed traits. Liver HMGCR expression correlated negatively with the serum high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels, carcass lean percentage and stearic acid content, while muscle expression correlated also negatively with the carcass lean percentage, stearic and linoleic acids content, but showed a positive correlation with the serum lipid cholesterol (HDL, LDL and total cholesterol), IMF and muscle oleic and palmitic fatty acid content. With this information, we have performed an association analysis of expression data with lipid metabolism phenotypic levels and the HMGCR genotype. The results indicate that HMGCR expression levels in muscle are different in the two groups of pigs with extreme values for fat deposition and total cholesterol levels, and also between animals with the different HMGCR genotypes.