The objective was to characterize the transcriptome profile of in vivo–derived female embryos competent to establish and maintain gestation. Blastocysts from superovulated heifers were bisected to generate two demi-embryos. One demi-embryo was transferred into a synchronized recipient and the other part was used for RNA-seq analysis. Data on transcript abundance was analyzed for 4 demi-embryos that established and maintained pregnancy to day 60 (designated as PP) and 3 that did not result in a pregnancy at day 30 (designated as NP). Using a false discovery rate of P < 0.10 as cutoff, a total of 155 genes were differentially expressed between PP and NP embryos, of which 73 genes were upregulated and 82 genes were downregulated in the PP group. The functional cluster with the greatest enrichment score for embryos that survived, representing 28 genes (48% of the annotated genes), was related to membrane proteins, particularly those related to olfaction and neural development and function. The functional cluster with the greatest enrichment score for downregulated genes in embryos that survived included terms related to oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondrial function, and transmembrane proteins. In conclusion, competence of in vivo–derived female bovine embryos to survive after transfer is associated with increased expression of genes encoding transmembrane proteins, perhaps indicative of differentiation of the inner cell mass to epiblast, and decreased expression of genes involved in oxidative phosphorylation, perhaps indicative of reduced metabolic activity.
- Embryo survival
- Preimplantation embryo