Telomeres are transcribed into long non-coding RNAs known as Telomeric Repeat-Containing RNA (TERRA). They have been shown to be essential regulators of telomeres and to act as epigenomic modulators at extra-telomeric sites. However the role of TERRA during early embryonic development has never been investigated. Here, we show that TERRA is expressed in murine and bovine early development following a wave pattern. It starts at 4-cell stage, reaching a maximum at the 16-cell followed by a decline at the morula and blastocyst stages. Moreover, TERRA expression is not affected by increasing oocyte donor age whereas telomere length does. This indicates that TERRA expression is independent of the telomere length in early development. Our findings anticipate an essential role of TERRA in early stages of development and this might be useful in the future for a better understanding of age related female infertility.
Keywords: TERRA; early embryonic development; oocytes; reproductive aging; telomere length.