Background/objectives: Carboxyl ester lipase is a pancreatic enzyme encoded by CEL, an extremely polymorphic human gene. Pathogenic variants of CEL either increases the risk for chronic pancreatitis (CP) or cause MODY8, a syndrome of pancreatic exocrine and endocrine dysfunction. Here, we aimed to characterize a novel duplication allele of CEL (CEL-DUP2) and to investigate whether it associates with CP or pancreatic cancer.
Methods: The structure of CEL-DUP2 was determined by a combination of Sanger sequencing, DNA fragment analysis, multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification and whole-genome sequencing. We developed assays for screening of CEL-DUP2 and analyzed cohorts of idiopathic CP, alcoholic CP and pancreatic cancer. CEL protein expression was analyzed by immunohistochemistry.
Results: CEL-DUP2 consists of an extra copy of the complete CEL gene. The allele has probably arisen from non-allelic, homologous recombination involving the adjacent pseudogene of CEL. We found no association between CEL-DUP2 carrier frequency and CP in cohorts from France (cases/controls: 2.5%/2.4%; P = 1.0), China (10.3%/8.1%; P = 0.08) or Germany (1.6%/2.3%; P = 0.62). Similarly, no association with disease was observed in alcohol-induced pancreatitis (Germany: 3.2%/2.3%; P = 0.51) or pancreatic cancer (Norway; 2.5%/3.2%; P = 0.77). Notably, the carrier frequency of CEL-DUP2 was more than three-fold higher in Chinese compared with Europeans. CEL protein expression was similar in tissues from CEL-DUP2 carriers and controls.
Conclusions: Our results support the contention that the number of CEL alleles does not influence the risk of pancreatic exocrine disease. Rather, the pathogenic CEL variants identified so far involve exon 11 sequence changes that substantially alter the protein's tail region.
Keywords: Carboxyl ester lipase; Carrier frequency; Chronic pancreatitis; Copy number variation; Pancreatic cancer.
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