Gene expression profiling of individual bovine nuclear transfer blastocysts

Joanna Somers, Craig Smith, Martyn Donnison, David N Wells, Harold Henderson, Lance McLeay, P L Pfeffer
Reproduction 2006, 131 (6): 1073-84
During somatic cell nuclear transfer the gene expression profile of the donor cell has to be changed or reprogrammed extensively to reflect that of a normal embryo. In this study we focused on the switching on of embryonic genes by screening with a microarray consisting of 5000 independent cDNA isolates derived from a bovine blastocyst library which we constructed for this purpose. Expression profiling was performed using linearly amplified RNA from individual day 7 nuclear transfer (NT) and genetically half-identical in vitro produced (IVP) blastocysts. We identified 92 genes expressed at lower levels in NT embryos whereas transcripts of 43 genes were more abundant in NT embryos (P < or = 0.05, > or = 1.5-fold change). A range of functional categories was represented among the identified genes, with a preponderance of constitutively expressed genes required for the maintenance of basal cellular function. Using a stringent quantitative SYBR-green real time RT-PCR based approach we found, when comparing the means of the expression levels of a larger set of individual embryos, that differences were small (< 2-fold) and only significant for two of the seven analysed genes (KRT18, SLC16A1). Notably, examination of transcript levels of a single gene in individual embryos could not distinguish an NT from a control embryo. This unpredictability of individual gene expression on a global background of multiple gene expression changes argues for a predominantly stochastic nature of reprogramming errors.

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