In mammals, the oviduct may participate to the regulation of early embryo development. In vitro co-culture of early bovine embryos with bovine oviduct epithelial cells (BOEC) has been largely used to mimic the maternal environment. However, the mechanisms of BOEC action have not been clearly elucidated yet. The aim of this study was to determine the response of BOEC cultures to the presence of developing bovine embryos. A 21,581-element bovine oligonucleotide array was used compare the gene expression profiles of confluent BOEC cultured for 8 days with or without embryos. This study revealed 34 differentially expressed genes (DEG). Of these 34 genes, IFI6, ISG15, MX1, IFI27, IFI44, RSAD2, IFITM1, EPSTI1, USP18, IFIT5, and STAT1 expression increased to the greatest extent due to the presence of embryos with a major impact on antiviral and immune response. Among the mRNAs at least 25 are already described as induced by interferons. In addition, transcript levels of new candidate genes involved in the regulation of transcription, modulation of the maternal immune system and endometrial remodeling were found to be increased. We selected 7 genes and confirmed their differential expression by quantitative RT-PCR. The immunofluorescence imaging of cellular localization of STAT1 protein in BOEC showed a nuclear translocation in the presence of embryos, suggesting the activation of interferon signaling pathway. This first systematic study of BOEC transcriptome changes in response to the presence of embryos in cattle provides some evidences that these cells are able to adapt their transcriptomic profile in response to embryo signaling.
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