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C de Frutos, A P López-Cardona, N Fonseca Balvís, R Laguna-Barraza, D Rizos, A Gutierrez-Adán, and P Bermejo-Álvarez

Offspring telomere length (TL) has been correlated with paternal TL, but the mechanism for this parent of origin-specific inheritance remains unclear. The objective of this study has been to determine the role of spermatozoa TL in embryonic telomere lengthening by using two mouse models showing dimorphism in their spermatozoa TL: Mus musculus vs Mus spretus and old vs young Mus musculus. Mus spretu s spermatozoa displayed a shorter TL than Mus musculus. Hybrid offspring exhibited lower TL compared with Mus musculus starting at the two-cell stage, before the onset of telomerase expression. To analyze the role of spermatozoa telomeres in early telomere lengthening, we compared the TL in oocytes, zygotes, two-cell embryos and blastocysts produced by parthenogenesis or by fertilization with Mus musculus or Mus spretus spermatozoa. TL was significantly higher in spermatozoa compared with oocytes, and it increased significantly from the oocyte to the zygote stage in those embryos fertilized with Mus musculus spermatozoa, but not in those fertilized with Mus spretus spermatozoa or produced by parthenogenesis. A further increase was noted from the zygote to the two-cell stage in fertilized Mus musculus embryos, whereas hybrid embryos maintained the oocyte TL. Spermatozoa TL shortened with age in Mus musculus and the offspring from young males showed a significantly higher TL compared with that fathered by old males. These significant differences were already noticeable at the two-cell stage. These results suggest that spermatozoa telomeres act as a guide for telomerase-independent telomere lengthening resulting in differences in TL that persist after birth.

Free Spanish abstract: A Spanish translation of this abstract is freely available at

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C Passaro, D Tutt, S Bagés-Arnal, C Maicas, R Laguna-Barraza, A Gutierrez-Adán, J A Browne, D Rath, S K Behura, T E Spencer, T Fair, and P Lonergan

The aims of this study were (i) to investigate changes in the global transcriptome of bovine endometrial explants induced by exposure to blastocysts, (ii) to investigate if male and female blastocysts elicit a differential response in the endometrial transcriptome in vitro and (iii) to determine whether bovine endometrium responds to the presence of murine embryos. In Experiment 1, endometrial explants from the same uterus were cultured for 6 h with or without 20 in vitro-produced bovine blastocysts. In Experiment 2, endometrial explants were cultured with male or female bovine blastocysts produced in vitro by IVF either using sex-sorted semen or conventional unsorted semen followed by embryo sexing based on a biopsy. In Experiment 3, endometrial explants were cultured alone or in the presence of bovine blastocysts (n = 25) or murine blastocysts (n = 25). Following culture, explants were snap frozen and stored at −80°C until RNA extraction, qPCR or RNA-Seq. Culture with bovine blastocysts increased endometrial expression of 40 transcripts, all of which were interferon-tau induced. Culture with male or female bovine blastocysts increased transcript abundance of five classic interferon-stimulated genes (MX1, MX2, ISG15, OASY1, RSAD2) in explants; however, there was no difference in abundance of transcripts previously reported to be related to embryonic sex (IFNAR1, IFNAR2, CTGF, ARTN, SLC2A1, SLC2A5). Exposure to murine blastocysts did not elicit any detectable change in transcript abundance. These findings, coupled with our previous data, indicate that very local, interferon-tau-induced changes in endometrial gene expression occur in response to blastocysts; whether such changes play any role in subsequent pregnancy recognition remains to be established.