Effect of vitrification on global gene expression dynamics of bovine elongating embryos

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Embryo vitrification involves exposure to high concentrations of cryoprotectants and osmotic stress during cooling and warming in the cryopreservation process. Many of these factors can potentially affect gene expression. In this study, invitro-produced bovine embryos at the blastocyst stage were subjected to vitrification. Four recipients each were used for transferring non-vitrified (n=80) and vitrified (n=80) embryos. A total of 12 non-vitrified and 9 vitrified viable day-14 (D14) embryos were recovered by uterine flushing. RNA-seq analysis of the whole embryo or isolated trophectoderm (TE) from vitrified and fresh recovered D14 embryos revealed a total of 927 and 4376 genes with changed expression in embryos and TE isolates, respectively, as a result of vitrification. In addition, we found 671 and 61 genes commonly up- or downregulated in both vitrified whole embryos and TE. Commonly upregulated pathways by vitrification included epithelial adherens junctions, sirtuin signalling, germ cell-sertoli cell junction, ATM signalling, NER and protein ubiquitination pathways. The commonly downregulated pathways included EIF2 signalling, oxidative phosphorylation, mitochondrial dysfunction, regulation of eIF4 and p70S6K signalling and mTOR signalling pathways. Our analysis identified specific pathways and implicated specific gene expression patterns affecting embryo developmental competence that are important to cryopreservation.

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Reproduction, fertility, and development

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