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Gad, A., U. Besenfelder, V. Havlicek, M. Hölker, F. Rings, I. Dufort, M. A. Sirard, K. Schellander, and D. Tesfaye, "In vitro Culture During Oocyte Maturation and Fertilization Influences The Treanscriptome Profiles of Bovine Blastocysts", Reproduction, Fertility and Development, vol. 27, no. 1: CSIRO PUBLISHING, pp. 186–187, 2015. Abstract

Early embryonic development, the period from oocyte maturation until blastocyst formation, is the most critical period of mammalian development. It is well known that in vitro maturation, fertilization, and culture of bovine embryos is highly affected by culture conditions. However, the stage-specific effect of culture environment is poorly understood. Therefore, we aimed to examine the effect of in vitro culture conditions during oocyte maturation and fertilization on the transcriptome profile of the resulting blastocysts. Bovine oocytes were matured in vitro and then either directly transferred to synchronized recipients, fertilized, and cultured in vivo (Vitro_M), or transferred after in vitro fertilization (Vitro_F), or at zygote stage (Vitro_Z) and blastocysts were collected at Day 7 by uterine flushing. For in vivo or in vitrofertilization, the same frozen-thawed commercial bull semen has been used. Complete in vitro (IVP) and in vivoproduced blastocysts were used as controls. Gene expression patterns between each blastocyst group and in vivoproduced blastocyst group were compared using EmbryoGENE's bovine microarray (EmbryoGENE, Québec, QC, Canada) over six replicates of each group (10 blastocyst/replicate). Microarray data were statistically analysed using the Linear Models for Microarray Data Analysis (LIMMA) package under the R program (The R Project for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria). Results showed that, the longer the embryos spent under in vitro conditions, the higher was the number of differentially expressed genes (DEG, fold-change = 2 with adjusted P-value = 0.05) compared within vivo control group. The Vitro_M group showed the lowest number of DEG (149); in contrast IVP group represented 841, DEG, respectively compared to in vivo control group. Ontological classification of DEG showed that lipid metabolism was the most significant function influenced by in vitro maturation conditions. More than 55% of DEG in the Vitro_M group were involved in the lipid metabolism process and most of them showed down-regulation compared to in vivo control group. On the other hand, Vitro_F and Vitro_Z groups showed nearly similar numbers of DEG (584 and 532, respectively) and the majority of these genes in both groups were involved in cell-death- and cell-cycle-related functions. Pathway analysis revealed that retinoic acid receptor activation pathways were the common ones in the Vitro_M and Vitro_F groups. However, different signalling pathways were commonly dominant in the Vitro_F and Vitro_Z groups. This study provides the transcriptome elasticity of bovine embryos exposed to different environments during maturation, fertilization, and culture periods of development.

Abdelatty, A. M., M. E. Iwaniuk, S. B. Potts, and A. Gad, "Influence of maternal nutrition and heat stress on bovine oocyte and embryo development", International Journal of Veterinary Science and Medicine: Elsevier, 2018. Abstract
Gad, A., M. Murin, L. Nemcova, A. Bartkova, J. Laurincik, and R. Procházka, "Inhibition of miR-152 during In Vitro Maturation Enhances the Developmental Potential of Porcine Embryos", Animals, vol. 10, no. 12, 2020. AbstractWebsite

Oocyte developmental competence is regulated by various mechanisms and molecules including microRNAs (miRNAs). However, the functions of many of these miRNAs in oocyte and embryo development are still unclear. In this study, we managed to manipulate the expression level of miR-152 during oocyte maturation to figure out its potential role in determining the developmental competence of porcine oocytes. The inhibition (Inh) of miR-152 during oocyte maturation does not affect the MII and cleavage rates, however it significantly enhances the blastocyst rate compared to the overexpression (OvExp) and control groups. Pathway analysis identified several signaling pathways (including PI3K/AKT, TGFβ, Hippo, FoxO, and Wnt signaling) that are enriched in the predicted target genes of miR-152. Gene expression analysis revealed that IGF1 was significantly up-regulated in the Inh group and downregulated in the OvExp group of oocytes. Moreover, IGF1R was significantly upregulated in the Inh oocyte group compared to the control one and IGFBP6 was downregulated in the Inh oocyte group compared to the other groups. Blastocysts developed from the OvExp oocytes exhibited an increase in miR-152 expression, dysregulation in some quality-related genes, and the lowest rate of blastocyst formation. In conclusion, our results demonstrate a negative correlation between miR-152 expression level and blastocyst rate in pigs. This correlation could be through targeting IGF system components during oocyte development.