Sexually Dimorphic Gene Expression in Bovine Conceptuses at the Initiation of Implantation1

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In cattle, maternal recognition of pregnancy occurs on Day 16 via secretion of interferon tau (IFNT) by the conceptus. The endometrium can distinguish between embryos with different developmental competencies. In eutherian mammals, X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) is required to ensure an equal transcriptional level of most X-linked genes for both male and female embryos in adult tissues, but this process is markedly different in cattle than mice. We examined how sexual dimorphism affected conceptus transcript abundance and amino acid composition as well as the endometrial transcriptome during the peri-implantation period of pregnancy. Of the 5132 genes that were differentially expressed on Day 19 in male compared to female conceptuses, 2.7% were located on the X chromosome. Concentrations of specific amino acids were higher in the uterine luminal fluid of male compared to female conceptuses, while female conceptuses had higher transcript abundance of specific amino acid transporters (SLC6A19andSLC1A35). Of note, the endometrial transcriptome was not different in cattle gestating a male or a female conceptus. These data support the hypothesis that, far from being a blastocyst-specific phenomenon, XCI is incomplete before and during implantation in cattle. Despite differences in transcript abundance and amino acid utilization in male versus female conceptuses, the sex of the conceptus itself does not elicit a different transcriptomic response in the endometrium.

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