Animal Reproduction (AR)
Animal Reproduction (AR)

RNA sequencing and gene co-expression network of in vitro matured oocytes and blastocysts of buffalo

Priscila Di Paula Bessa Santana; Kenny da Costa Pinheiro; Lino César de Souza Pereira; Soraya Silva Andrade; Flávia Figueira Aburjaile; Priscilla do Carmo de Azevedo Ramos; Eduardo Baia de Souza; Nathalia Nogueira da Costa; Marcela da Silva Cordeiro; Simone do Socorro Damasceno Santos; Moysés dos Santos Miranda; Rommel Thiago Jucá Ramos; Artur Luiz da Costa da Silva

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In reproductive technologies, uncovering the molecular aspects of oocyte and embryo competence under different conditions is crucial for refining protocols and enhancing efficiency. RNA-seq generates high-throughput data and provides transcriptomes that can undergo additional computational analyses. This study presented the transcriptomic profiles of in vitro matured oocytes and blastocysts produced in vitro from buffalo crossbred (Bubalus bubalis), coupled with gene co-expression and module preservation analysis. Cumulus Oophorus Complexes, obtained from slaughterhouse-derived ovaries, were subjected to in vitro maturation to yield metaphase II oocytes (616) or followed in vitro fertilization and culture to yield blastocysts for sequencing (526). Oocyte maturation (72%, ±3.34 sd) and embryo development (21.3%, ±4.18 sd) rates were obtained from three in vitro embryo production routines following standard protocols. Sequencing of 410 metaphase II oocytes and 70 hatched blastocysts (grade 1 and 2) identified a total of 13,976 genes, with 62% being ubiquitously expressed (8,649). Among them, the differentially expressed genes (4,153) and the strongly variable genes with the higher expression (fold-change above 11) were highlighted in oocytes (BMP15, UCHL1, WEE1, NLRPs, KPNA7, ZP2, and ZP4) and blastocysts (APOA1, KRT18, ANXA2, S100A14, SLC34A2, PRSS8 and ANXA2) as representative indicators of molecular quality. Additionally, genes exclusively found in oocytes (224) and blastocysts (2,200) with specific biological functions were identified. Gene co-expression network and module preservation analysis revealed strong preservation of functional modules related to exosome components, steroid metabolism, cell proliferation, and morphogenesis. However, cell cycle and amino acid transport modules exhibited weak preservation, which may reflect differences in embryo development kinetics and the activation of cell signaling pathways between buffalo and bovine. This comprehensive transcriptomic profile serves as a valuable resource for assessing the molecular quality of buffalo oocytes and embryos in future in vitro embryo production assays.

Supplementary material accompanies this paper.


blastocyst, buffalo, oocyte, RNA-seq, co-expression networks


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