Dynamics of global transcriptome in bovine matured oocytes and preimplantation embryos
Global activation of the embryonic genome is the most critical event in early mammalian development. After fertilization, a rich supply of maternal proteins and RNAs support development whereas a number of zygotic and embryonic genes are expressed in a stage-specific manner leading to embryonic genome activation (EGA). However, the identities of embryonic genes expressed and the mechanism(s) of EGA are poorly defined in the bovine. Using the Affymetrix bovine-specific DNA microarray as the biggest available array at present, we analyzed gene expression at two key stages of bovine development, matured oocytes (MII) and 8-cell-stage embryos, constituting the ultimate reservoir for life and a stage during which EGA takes place, respectively. Key genes in regulation of transcription, chromatin-structure cell adhesion, and signal transduction were up-regulated at the 8-cell stage as compared with 8-cell embryos treated with alpha-amanitin and MII. Genes controlling DNA methylation and metabolism were up-regulated in MII. These changes in gene expression, related to transcriptional machinery, chromatin structure, and the other cellular functions occurring during several cleavage stages, are expected to result in a unique chromatin structure capable of maintaining totipotency during embryogenesis and leading to differentiation during postimplantation development. Dramatic reprogramming of gene expression at the onset of development also has implications for cell plasticity in somatic cell nuclear transfer, genomic imprinting, and cancer.