Differential gene expression in the endometrium reveals cytoskeletal and immunological genes in lactating dairy cows genetically divergent for fertility traits

Bruce Moran, Stephen T. Butler*, Stephen G. Moore, David E. Machugh, Christopher J. Creevey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Profitable milk production in dairy cows requires good reproductive performance. Calving interval is a trait used to measure reproductive efficiency. Herein we used a novel lactating Holstein cow model of fertility that displayed genetic and phenotypic divergence in calving interval, a trait used to define reproductive performance using a national breeding index in Ireland. Cows had similar genetic merit for milk production traits, but either very good genetic merit for fertility (Fert+; n≤7) or very poor genetic merit for fertility (Fert-; n≤6). We tested the hypothesis that Fert+ cows would have a corresponding detectable difference in endometrial gene expression compared with the Fert- cows. To do this, we sequenced the transcriptome of endometrial biopsies collected on Day 7 of the oestrous cycle (non-pregnant). This is an important stage for uterine remodelling and initiation of histotroph secretion. Significant differential expression (false discovery rate-adjusted P<0.1) of 403 genes between Fert+ and Fert- cows was found. A novel network-based functional analysis highlighted 123 genes from three physiologically relevant networks of the endometrium: (1) actin and cytoskeletal components; (2) immune function; and (3) ion transportation. In particular, our results indicate an overall downregulation of inflammation-related genes and an upregulation of multiple ion transporters and gated-voltage channels and cytoskeletal genes in Fert+ cows. These three topics, which are discussed in terms of the uterus and in the context of fertility, provide molecular evidence for an association between gene expression in the uterine environment and genetic merit for fertility in dairy cows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-282
JournalReproduction, Fertility and Development
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • fertility traits
  • genetic selection
  • reproduction
  • transcriptome
  • uterine environment
  • uterus.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Endocrinology
  • Developmental Biology

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