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Thyroid hormones alter the transcriptome of in vitro-produced bovine blastocysts

  • Fazl A. Ashkar (a1), Tamas Revay (a1), NaYoung Rho (a1), Pavneesh Madan (a1), Isabelle Dufort (a2), Claude Robert (a2), Laura A. Favetta (a1), Chris Schmidt (a1) and W. Allan King (a3)...


Thyroid hormones (THs) have been shown to improve in vitro embryo production in cattle by increasing blastocyst formation rate, and the average cell number of blastocysts and by significantly decreasing apoptosis rate. To better understand those genetic aspects that may underlie enhanced early embryo development in the presence of THs, we characterized the bovine embryonic transcriptome at the blastocyst stage, and examined differential gene expression profiles using a bovine-specific microarray. We found that 1212 genes were differentially expressed in TH-treated embryos when compared with non-treated controls (>1.5-fold at P < 0.05). In addition 23 and eight genes were expressed uniquely in control and treated embryos, respectively. The expression of genes specifically associated with metabolism, mitochondrial function, cell differentiation and development were elevated. However, TH-related genes, including those encoding TH receptors and deiodinases, were not differentially expressed in treated embryos. Furthermore, the over-expression of 52 X-chromosome linked genes in treated embryos suggested a delay or escape from X-inactivation. This study highlights the significant impact of THs on differential gene expression in the early embryo; the identification of TH-responsive genes provides an insight into those regulatory pathways activated during development.


Corresponding author

All correspondence to: W. Allan King. Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON N1G 2W1, Canada. E-mail:


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