RNA-Seq analysis uncovers transcriptomic variations between morphologically similar in vivo- and in vitro-derived bovine blastocysts

A valuable tool for both research and industry, in vitro fertilization (IVF) has applications range from gamete selection and preservation of traits to cloning. Although IVF has achieved worldwide use, with over 245,000 bovine embryos transferred in 2007 alone, there are still continuing difficulties with efficiency.

It is rare to have more than 40% of fertilized in vitro cattle oocytes reach blastocyst stage by day 8 of culture, and pregnancy rates are reported as less than 45% for in vitro produced embryos. To investigate potential influences in-vitro fertilization (IVF) has on embryonic development, this study compares in vivo- and in vitro-derived bovine blastocyst embryos at a similar stage and quality grade (expanded, excellent quality) to determine the degree of transcriptomic variation beyond morphology using RNA-Seq.

Results: A total of 26,906,451 and 38,184,547 fragments were sequenced for in vitro and in vivo embryo pools, respectively.

We detected expression for a total of 17,634 genes, with 793 genes showing differential expression between the two embryo populations (FDR<0.05). There were also 395 novel transcribed units found, of which 45 were differentially expressed (FDR<0.05).

In addition, 4,800 genes showed evidence of alternative splicing, with 873 genes displaying differential alternative splicing between the two pools (FDR<0.05). Using GO enrichment analysis, multiple biological pathways were found to be significantly enriched for differentially expressed genes (FDR<0.01), including cholesterol and sterol synthesis, system development, and cell differentiation.

Conclusions: Thus, our results support that IVF may influence at the transcriptomic level and that morphology is limited in full characterization of bovine preimplantation embryos.

Published on: 2012-03-28

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