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Exploring the function of long non-coding RNA in the development of bovine early embryos

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Fournier, Éric
Gagné, Dominique
Macaulay, Angus
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CSIRO publishing
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Now recognised as part of the cellular transcriptome, the function of long non-coding (lnc) RNA remains unclear. Previously, we found that some lncRNA molecules in bovine embryos are highly responsive to culture conditions. In view of a recent demonstration that lncRNA may play a role in regulating important functions, such as maintenance of pluripotency, modification of epigenetic marks and activation of transcription, we sought evidence of its involvement in embryogenesis. Among the numerous catalogued lncRNA molecules found in oocytes and early embryos of cattle, three candidates chosen for further characterisation were found unexpectedly in the cytoplasmic compartment rather than in the nucleus. Transcriptomic survey of subcellular fractions found these candidates also associated with polyribosomes and one of them spanning transzonal projections between cumulus cells and the oocyte. Knocking down this transcript in matured oocytes increased developmental rates, leading to larger blastocysts. Transcriptome and methylome analyses of these blastocysts showed concordant data for a subset of four genes, including at least one known to be important for blastocyst survival. Functional characterisation of the roles played by lncRNA in supporting early development remains elusive. Our results suggest that some lncRNAs play a role in translation control of target mRNA. This would be important for managing the maternal reserves within which is embedded the embryonic program, especially before embryonic genome activation.

Reproduction, fertility and development, Vol. 27 (1), 40–52 (2014)
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lncRNA, embryos, cytoplasm, polyribosome, transzonal projection, 14 knockdown, transcriptome, methylome
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