Quantitative mRNA expression in ovine blastocysts produced from X- and Y-chromosome bearing sperm, both in vitro and in vivo

K. H. Beilby, S. P. de Graaf, G. Evans, W M C Maxwell, S. Wilkening, C. Wrenzycki, C G Grupen

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Artificial insemination (AI) of sex-sorted sperm results in decreased fertility, compared with non-sorted sperm, in most species. However, this has not been the case in sheep, where the low-dose AI of sex-sorted ram sperm produced similar, if not superior, fertility to non-sorted controls. The aim of the present study was to determine the impact of sex-sorting technology on ovine embryo gene expression following embryo production in vivo and in vitro. After semen collection, ejaculates were split and either sex-sorted by flow cytometry and frozen, or diluted and frozen. Embryos were produced in vivo by inseminating superovulated ewes with either X- or Y-chromosome enriched sperm, or non-sorted control sperm, and collected by uterine flushing on Day 6 after AI. Embryos were produced in vitro using the same sperm treatments and cultured in vitro for 6 d. The relative abundance of selected gene transcripts was measured in high-grade blastocysts, defined by morphological assessment, using RT-qPCR. The mRNA expression of DNMT3A and SUV39H1 was upregulated in embryos cultured in vitro, compared to those cultured in vivo (DNMT3A: 3.61 ± 1.08 vs 1.99 ± 0.15; SUV39H1: 1.88 ± 0.11 vs 0.88 ± 0.07; mean ± SEM; P < 0.05). Both G6PD and SLC2A3 transcripts were reduced in embryos produced from sex-sorted sperm, in vivo (SLC2A3: 0.23 ± 0.03 vs 0.64 ± 0.10; G6PD: 0.32 ± 0.04 vs 1.01 ± 0.16; P < 0.05). The expression of DNMT3A was up-regulated in male (3.85 ± 0.31), compared to female embryos (2.34 ± 0.15; P < 0.05). This study contributes to the growing body of evidence citing aberrant patterns of gene expression resulting from in vitro culture. Whereas the process of sex-sorting altered the expression of several of the genes examined, no effect on embryo development was detected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-481
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene expression
  • IVF
  • MRNA expression
  • Sex-sorted sperm
  • Sheep

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