The lineage specification during early embryonic development in cattle remains largely elusive. The present study determines the effects of trophectoderm-associated factors GATA3 and CDX2 on lineage specification during bovine early embryonic development.
Current understandings of the initiation of the trophectoderm (TE) program during mammalian embryonic development lack evidence of how TE-associated factors such as GATA3 and CDX2 participate in bovine lineage specification. In this study, we describe the effects of TE-associated factors on the expression of lineage specification marker genes such as SOX2, OCT4, NANOG, GATA6, and SOX17, by using cytosine base editor system. We successfully knockout GATA3 or CDX2 in bovine embryos with a robust efficiency. However, GATA3 or CDX2 deletion does not affect the developmental potential of embryos to reach the blastocyst stage. Interestingly, GATA3 deletion downregulates the NANOG expression in bovine blastocysts. Further analysis of the mosaic embryos shows that GATA3 is required for NANOG in the TE of bovine blastocysts. Single blastocyst RNA-seq analysis reveals that GATA3 deletion disrupts the transcriptome in bovine blastocysts. Altogether, we propose that GATA3 plays an important role in maintaining TE lineage program in bovine embryos and the functional role of GATA3 is species-specific.