Somatic donor cell type correlates with embryonic, but not extra-embryonic, gene expression in postimplantation cloned embryos

PLoS One. 2013 Oct 16;8(10):e76422. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0076422. eCollection 2013.


The great majority of embryos generated by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) display defined abnormal phenotypes after implantation, such as an increased likelihood of death and abnormal placentation. To gain better insight into the underlying mechanisms, we analyzed genome-wide gene expression profiles of day 6.5 postimplantation mouse embryos cloned from three different cell types (cumulus cells, neonatal Sertoli cells and fibroblasts). The embryos retrieved from the uteri were separated into embryonic (epiblast) and extraembryonic (extraembryonic ectoderm and ectoplacental cone) tissues and were subjected to gene microarray analysis. Genotype- and sex-matched embryos produced by in vitro fertilization were used as controls. Principal component analysis revealed that whereas the gene expression patterns in the embryonic tissues varied according to the donor cell type, those in extraembryonic tissues were relatively consistent across all groups. Within each group, the embryonic tissues had more differentially expressed genes (DEGs) (>2-fold vs. controls) than did the extraembryonic tissues (P<1.0 × 10(-26)). In the embryonic tissues, one of the common abnormalities was upregulation of Dlk1, a paternally imprinted gene. This might be a potential cause of the occasional placenta-only conceptuses seen in SCNT-generated mouse embryos (1-5% per embryos transferred in our laboratory), because dysregulation of the same gene is known to cause developmental failure of embryos derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. There were also some DEGs in the extraembryonic tissues, which might explain the poor development of SCNT-derived placentas at early stages. These findings suggest that SCNT affects the embryonic and extraembryonic development differentially and might cause further deterioration in the embryonic lineage in a donor cell-specific manner. This could explain donor cell-dependent variations in cloning efficiency using SCNT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Cell Separation
  • Cloning, Organism*
  • Embryo Implantation / genetics*
  • Extraembryonic Membranes / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental*
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / genetics
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Nuclear Transfer Techniques
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tissue Donors
  • Up-Regulation / genetics


  • Biomarkers
  • Calcium-Binding Proteins
  • Dlk1 protein, mouse
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins

Grants and funding

This work was supported by a Grant-in-Aid from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.