Asynchronous Embryo Transfer Followed by Comparative Transcriptomic Analysis of Conceptus Membranes and Endometrium Identifies Processes Important to the Establishment of Equine Pregnancy

Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Apr 7;21(7):2562. doi: 10.3390/ijms21072562.


Preimplantation horse conceptuses require nutrients and signals from histotroph, the composition of which is regulated by luteal progesterone and conceptus-secreted factors. To distinguish progesterone and conceptus effects we shortened the period of endometrial progesterone-priming by asynchronous embryo transfer. Day 8 embryos were transferred to synchronous (day 8) or asynchronous (day 3) recipients, and RNA sequencing was performed on endometrium and conceptuses recovered 6 and 11 days later (embryo days 14 and 19). Asynchrony resulted in many more differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in conceptus membranes (3473) than endometrium (715). Gene ontology analysis identified upregulation in biological processes related to organogenesis and preventing apoptosis in synchronous conceptuses on day 14, and in cell adhesion and migration on day 19. Asynchrony also resulted in large numbers of DEGs related to 'extracellular exosome'. In endometrium, genes involved in immunity, the inflammatory response, and apoptosis regulation were upregulated during synchronous pregnancy and, again, many genes related to extracellular exosome were differentially expressed. Interestingly, only 14 genes were differentially expressed in endometrium recovered 6 days after synchronous versus 11 days after asynchronous transfer (day 14 recipient in both). Among these, KNG1 and IGFBP3 were consistently upregulated in synchronous endometrium. Furthermore bradykinin, an active peptide cleaved from KNG1, stimulated prostaglandin release by cultured trophectoderm cells. The horse conceptus thus responds to a negatively asynchronous uterus by extensively adjusting its transcriptome, whereas the endometrial transcriptome is modified only subtly by a more advanced conceptus.

Keywords: asynchronous embryo transfer; conceptus; endometrium; exosome; horse; transcriptome.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Embryo Transfer / methods
  • Embryo, Mammalian / metabolism*
  • Embryo, Mammalian / physiology
  • Embryonic Development / physiology
  • Endometrium / metabolism*
  • Endometrium / physiology
  • Female
  • Horses
  • Membranes / metabolism*
  • Membranes / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Transcriptome / physiology*
  • Up-Regulation / physiology
  • Uterus / metabolism
  • Uterus / physiology