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Symposium review: Embryo survival—A genomic perspective of the other side of fertility

Khatib, H., Gross, N.
Journal of dairy science 2019 v.102 no.4 pp. 3744-3753
RNA interference, biomarkers, biopsy, cattle, diet, embryogenesis, embryonic mortality, environmental factors, gene editing, genes, genomics, humans, microRNA, physiological state, pregnancy outcome, risk, transcriptome, transcriptomics, uterus
The majority of embryonic loss in cattle occurs within the first 3 to 4 wk of pregnancy, and there are currently no accurate predictors of pregnancy outcome. Existing embryo quality assessment methods include morphological evaluation and embryo biopsy. These methods are not accurate and carry some health risks to the developing embryo, respectively. Therefore, there is need to identify noninvasive biomarkers such as microRNA that can predict embryo quality and pregnancy outcome. Furthermore, researchers need a better understanding of the dynamic interaction between the mother and the embryo. The transcriptome of the uterus shows plasticity that depends on the embryo type so that the expression level of some genes for in vivo embryos would be different from that of in vitro-produced embryos. Similarly, the embryonic transcriptome and epigenome change in response to different environmental factors such as stress, diet, disease, and physiological status of the mother. This embryo–mother crosstalk could be better understood by investigating the molecular signaling that occurs at different stages of embryonic development. Although transcriptomics is a useful tool to assess the roles of genes and pathways in embryo quality and maternal receptivity, it does not provide the exact functions of these genes, and it shows correlation rather than causality. Therefore, an in-depth functional genomic analysis is needed for better understanding of the molecular mechanisms controlling embryo development. In this review, we discuss recent genomic technologies such as RNA interference, gapmer technology, and genome editing techniques used in humans and livestock to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of genes affecting embryo development.