Discovery of pluripotency-associated microRNAs in rabbit preimplantation embryos and embryonic stem-like cells

Pouneh Maraghechi, László Hiripi, Gábor Tóth, Babett Bontovics, Zsuzsanna Bősze, Elen Gócza
Reproduction 2013 April 1, 145 (4): 421-37
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate multiple biological processes. Increasing experimental evidence implies an important regulatory role of miRNAs during embryonic development and in embryonic stem (ES) cell biology. In the current study, we have described and analyzed the expression profile of pluripotency-associated miRNAs in rabbit embryos and ES-like cells. The rabbit specific ocu-miR-302 and ocu-miR-290 clusters, and three homologs of the human C19MC cluster (ocu-miR-512, ocu-miR-520e, and ocu-miR-498) were identified in rabbit preimplantation embryos and ES-like cells. The ocu-miR-302 cluster was highly similar to its human homolog, while ocu-miR-290 revealed a low level of evolutionary conservation with its mouse homologous cluster. The expression of the ocu-miR-302 cluster began at the 3.5 days post-coitum early blastocyst stage and they stayed highly expressed in rabbit ES-like cells. In contrast, a high expression level of the ocu-miR-290 cluster was detected during preimplantation embryonic development, but a low level of expression was found in rabbit ES-like cells. Differential expression of the ocu-miR-302 cluster and ocu-miR-512 miRNA was detected in rabbit trophoblast and embryoblast. We also found that Lefty has two potential target sites in its 3'UTR for ocu-miR-302a and its expression level increased upon ocu-miR-302a inhibition. We suggest that the expression of the ocu-miR-302 cluster is characteristic of the rabbit ES-like cell, while the ocu-miR-290 cluster may play a crucial role during early embryonic development. This study presents the first identification, to our knowledge, of pluripotency-associated miRNAs in rabbit preimplantation embryos and ES-like cells, which can open up new avenues to investigate the regulatory function of ocu-miRNAs in embryonic development and stem cell biology.

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