Poultry science

Comparison of protoporphyrin IX content and related gene expression in the tissues of chickens laying brown-shelled eggs.

PMID 24235220


Protoporphyrin IX (PpIX), an immediate precursor of heme, is the main pigment resulting in the brown coloration of eggshell. The brownness and uniformity of the eggshell are important marketing considerations. In this study, 9 chickens laying darker brown shelled eggs and 9 chickens laying lighter brown shelled eggs were selected from 464 individually caged layers in a Rhode Island Red pureline. The PpIX contents were measured with a Microplate Reader at the wavelength of 412 nm and were compared in different tissues of the 2 groups. Although no significant difference in serum, bile, and excreta was found between the 2 groups, PpIX content in the shell gland and eggshell of the darker group was higher than in those of the lighter group, suggesting that PpIX was synthesized in the shell gland. We further determined the expression levels of 8 genes encoding enzymes involved in the heme synthesis and transport in the liver and shell gland at 6 h postoviposition by quantitative PCR. The results showed that expression of aminolevulinic acid synthase-1 (ALAS1) was higher in the liver of hens laying darker brown shelled eggs, whereas in the shell gland the expression levels of ALAS1, coproporphyrinogen oxidase (CPOX), ATP-binding cassette family members ABCB7 and ABCG2, and receptor for feline leukemia virus, subgroup C (FLVCR) were significantly higher in the hens laying darker brown shelled eggs. Our results demonstrated that hens laying darker brown shelled eggs could deposit more PpIX onto the eggshell and the brownness of the eggshell was dependent on the total quantity of PpIX in the eggshell. More heme was synthesized in the liver and shell gland of hens laying darker brown shelled eggs than those of hens laying lighter brown shelled eggs. High expression level of ABCG2 might facilitate the accumulation of PpIX in the shell gland.

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Protoporphyrin IX disodium salt, ≥90% (HPLC)