Main content area

Inhibitor mediated WNT and MEK/ERK signalling affects apoptosis and the expression of quality related genes in bovine in vitro obtained blastocysts

Madeja, Zofia E., Warzych, Ewelina, Pawlak, Piotr, Lechniak, Dorota
Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2019 v.510 no.3 pp. 403-408
apoptosis, blastocyst, cattle, cell differentiation, chemical inhibitors, embryogenesis, embryonic mortality, gene expression, genes, messenger RNA, metabolites, mitogen-activated protein kinase, signal transduction
Culture conditions determine embryo quality, which may be affected on many levels (timing of development, blastomere count, transcripts, metabolite content, apoptosis). Molecular interactions of signalling pathways like MEK/ERK and WNT/β-catenin are critical for cell-to-cell communication and cellular differentiation. Both pathways are important regulators of apoptosis. We have aimed to verify the prolonged effect of MEK/ERK silencing and WNT activation by chemical inhibitors (2i or 3i systems) on bovine IVP embryos. Apoptotic index, total cell count and transcription of embryo quality markers were evaluated. A higher rate of apoptosis was observed in 2i blastocysts, but was not accompanied by changes in transcript content of genes controlling apoptosis (BAX, BCL2, BAK, BAX/BCL2 ratio). Therefore, alternative pathways of apoptotic activation cannot be ruled out. The expression of genes related to embryo quality (HSPA1A, SLC2A1) was not affected. GJA1 transcripts were significantly higher in 3i blastocysts, what indicates a stimulatory effect of the applied inhibitors on cell-to-cell interactions. The lowest mRNA level of the IFNT2 gene was found in 2i embryos. A variation in the SDHA gene transcript was observed (with the highest content in the 3i blastocysts), what may suggest their reduced quality. It may be concluded that the modifications of culture conditions (activation of the WNT and silencing of the MEK/ERK signalling) might alter pathways crucial for embryo development without causing embryonic death.