Epigenetic reprogramming after mammalian somatic cell nuclear transfer is often incomplete, resulting in low efficiency of cloning. However, gene expression and histone modification analysis indicated high similarities in transcriptome and epigenomes of bovine embryonic stem cells from in vitro fertilized and somatic cell nuclear transfer embryos.
Embryonic stem cells (ESC) indefinitely maintain the pluripotent state of the blastocyst epiblast. Stem cells are invaluable for studying development and lineage commitment, and in livestock, they constitute a useful tool for genomic improvement and in vitro breeding programs. Although these cells have been recently derived from bovine blastocysts, a detailed characterization of their molecular state is lacking. Here, we apply cutting-edge technologies to analyze the transcriptomic and epigenomic landscape of bovine ESC (bESC) obtained from in vitro fertilized (IVF) and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) embryos. bESC were efficiently derived from SCNT and IVF embryos and expressed pluripotency markers while retaining genome stability. Transcriptome analysis revealed that only 46 genes were differentially expressed between IVF- and SCNT-derived bESC, which did not reflect significant deviation in cellular function. Interrogating histone 3 lysine 4 trimethylation, histone 3 lysine 9 trimethylation, and histone 3 lysine 27 trimethylation with cleavage under targets and tagmentation, we found that the epigenomes of both bESC groups were virtually indistinguishable. Minor epigenetic differences were randomly distributed throughout the genome and were not associated with differentially expressed or developmentally important genes. Finally, the categorization of genomic regions according to their combined histone mark signal demonstrated that all bESC shared the same epigenomic signatures, especially at gene promoters. Overall, we conclude that bESC derived from SCNT and IVF embryos are transcriptomically and epigenetically analogous, allowing for the production of an unlimited source of pluripotent cells from high genetic merit organisms without resorting to transgene-based techniques.