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Mol Hum Reprod. 2012 Sep;18(9):425-34. doi: 10.1093/molehr/gas015. Epub 2012 Apr 4.

Analysis of microRNAs and their precursors in bovine early embryonic development.

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  • 1Centre de recherche en biologie de la reproduction, Faculté des sciences de l'agriculture et de l'alimentation, Département des Sciences Animales, INAF, Pavillon des services, Université Laval, QC, Canada G1V 0A6.


In animals, the maternal-to-embryonic transition (MET) occurs in the first days of early development and involves the degradation of maternal transcripts that have been stored during oogenesis. Moreover, precise and specific control mechanisms govern the adequate synchronization of the MET events to promote the activation of the embryonic genome. These mechanisms are not well understood, but it is believed that microRNAs (miRNAs) could be one of the mechanisms involved. After a microarray screening study, we analysed the expression of specific miRNA during oocyte maturation and early embryo development until preimplantation stages. Two differentially expressed candidates were selected for further analysis. Mature and precursor forms of miR-21 and miR-130a were quantified by qRT-PCR in pools of 20 oocytes at GV (germinal vesicle), GV breakdown and metaphase II stages as well as in pools of embryos at the 2-cell, 4-cell, 8-cell and blastocyst stages. The results showed a linear increase during the 1-8 cell stage for the mature forms of miR-130a and miR-21 (P < 0.05 and P < 0.003, respectively) and for the precursor form of miR-130a (P < 0.002). To see if this increase was due to minor transcriptional activity, 2-cell embryos were exposed to α-amanitin for 30-34 h. Results showed a significant decrease in miR-21, pre-miR-21, miR-130a and SRFS3 in α-amanitin-treated embryos (P < 0.05). Considering the potential regulatory role of these miRNA, the bovine genome was screened to identify putative targets with a 3'UTR exact seed match. This study suggests that miRNAs could be important players in the MET, as expression profiles suggest a potential regulation role during early development steps.

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