Two unique features occur during preimplantation embryo development: 1) initiation of calcium-dependent adhesion and establishment of apicobasal polarity in the morula, and 2) formation of the blastocoel by establishment of tight junctions (TJs), ion channels, and water channels in the outer blastomeres. Although several key genes involved in morula and blastocyst formation have been identified, most remain unknown. Sperm antigen with calponin homology and coiled-coil domains 1(SPECC1) is highly expressed in testis and tumor cells, and is involved in diverse cellular processes such as ribosome biogenesis, rRNA transcription, mitosis, cell growth, and apoptosis in tumor cells. However, spatiotemporal expressions of Specc1 during mouse preimplantation development have not yet been investigated. Here, we examined the expression patterns of Specc1 using qRT-PCR and immunocytochemistry, and its biological function using siRNA injection into 1-cell zygotes. Specc1 was detectable throughout preimplantation development and markedly increased from the morula stage onwards. It was particularly observed in trophectoderm cells, rather than the inner cell mass of blastocyst. Maternal and zygotic Specc1 transcripts were abolished using RNA interference. There were no significant differences in development between Specc1 knock down (KD) and control embryos until the morula stage, but was significantly reduced blastocyst development and increased tight junction permeability in KD embryos, as assessed by FITC uptake. In summary, elevated expression of Specc1 in the morula and blastocyst may affect blastocyst formation, including tight junction complex during the morula to blastocyst transition.
Keywords: Blastocyst; Mouse embryo; Preimplantation; Specc1; Tight junctions.
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