Project description:BACKGROUND:Maternal transcripts are accumulated in the oocyte during oogenesis to provide for protein synthesis from oocyte maturation through early embryonic development, when nuclear transcription is silenced. The maternal mRNAs have short poly(A) tails after undergoing post-transcriptional processing necessary for stabilizing them for storage. The transcripts undergo cytoplasmic polyadenylation when they are to be translated. Transcriptome analyses comparing total mRNA and elongated poly(A) mRNA content among eggs of different quality can provide insight into molecular mechanisms affecting egg developmental competence in rainbow trout. The present study used RNA-seq to compare transcriptomes of unfertilized eggs of rainbow trout females yielding different eyeing rates, following rRNA removal and poly(A) retention for construction of the libraries. RESULTS:The percentage of embryos to reach the 32-cell stage at 24?h post fertilization was significantly correlated to family eyeing rate, indicating that inviable embryos were developmentally compromised before zygotic genome activation. RNA sequencing identified 2 differentially expressed transcripts (DETs) from total mRNA sequencing comparing females with low-quality (<?5% eyeing), medium-quality (30-50% eyeing), and high-quality (>?80% eyeing) eggs. In contrast, RNA sequencing from poly(A) captured transcripts identified 945 DETs between low- and high-quality eggs, 1012 between low- and medium-quality eggs, and only 2 between medium- and high-quality eggs. The transcripts of mitochondrial genes were enriched with polyadenylated transcript sequencing and they were significantly reduced in low-quality eggs. Similarly, mitochondrial DNA was reduced in low-quality eggs compared with medium- and high-quality eggs. The functional gene analysis classified the 945 DETs between low- and high-quality eggs into 31 functional modules, many of which were related to ribosomal and mitochondrial functions. Other modules involved transcription, translation, cell division, apoptosis, and immune responses. CONCLUSIONS:Our results indicate that differences in egg quality may be derived from differences in maternal nuclear transcript activation and cytoplasmic polyadenylation before ovulation, as opposed to accumulation and storage of maternal nuclear transcripts during oogenesis. Transcriptome comparisons suggest low-quality eggs suffered from impaired oxidative phosphorylation and translation. The DETs identified in this study provide insight into developmental competence in rainbow trout eggs.
Project description:As first shown more than 100 years ago, fertilization of an aged (overripe) egg increases the rate of malformations and embryonic loss in several vertebrates, including possibly humans as well. Since the molecular events in aging eggs may be similar in these species, we established in the frog Xenopus tropicalis a defined protocol for delayed fertilization of eggs. A three-hour delayed fertilization led to a dramatic increase in malformation and mortality. Gene expression profiling revealed that 14% of the polyadenylated maternal transcripts were downregulated upon aging. These transcripts were not degraded, but rather deadenylated as shown for specific maternal mRNAs. The affected transcripts are characterized by a relatively short 3'UTR and a paucity of cytoplasmic polyadenylation elements (CPE) and polyadenylation signals (PAS). Furthermore, maternal mRNAs known to be deadenylated during egg maturation as well as after fertilization were preferentially deadenylated in aged eggs. Taken together our analysis of aging eggs reveals that unfertilized eggs are in a dynamic state that was previously not realized. On the one hand deadenylation of transcripts that are typically deadenylated during egg maturation continues and this implies overripeness of the aged egg in the truest sense of the word. On the other hand transcripts that normally are deadenylated after fertilization loose their poly(A) in the aged egg and this implies that the egg awaiting fertilization starts processes that are normally only observed after fertilization. Based on our novel finding we postulate that the imbalance of the polyadenylated maternal transcripts upon egg aging contributes to the loss of developmental potential. Based on this hypothesis the developmental consequences of downregulation of specific transcripts can be analyzed in future.
Project description:Gene downregulation by antisense morpholino oligonucleotides (MOs) is achieved by either hybridization around the translation initiation codon or by targeting the splice donor site. In the present study, an antisense MO method is introduced that uses a 25-mer MO against a region at least 40-nt upstream from a poly(A) tail junction in the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of maternal mRNA. The MO removed the poly(A) tail and blocked zebrafish cdk9 (zcdk9) mRNA translation, showing functional mimicry between miRNA and MO. A PCR-based assay revealed MO-mediated specific poly(A) tail removal of zebrafish mRNAs, including those for cyclin B1, cyclin B2 and tbp. The MO activity targeting cyclins A and B mRNAs was validated in unfertilized starfish oocytes and eggs. The MO removed the elongated poly(A) tail from maternal matured mRNA. This antisense method introduces a new application for the targeted downregulation of maternal mRNAs in animal oocytes, eggs and early embryos.
Project description:Ascidian embryos highlight the importance of cell lineages in animal development. As simple proto-vertebrates, they also provide insights into the evolutionary origins of cell types such as cranial placodes and neural crest cells. Here we have determined single-cell transcriptomes for more than 90,000 cells that span the entirety of development-from the onset of gastrulation to swimming tadpoles-in Ciona intestinalis. Owing to the small numbers of cells in ascidian embryos, this represents an average of over 12-fold coverage for every cell at every stage of development. We used single-cell transcriptome trajectories to construct virtual cell-lineage maps and provisional gene networks for 41 neural subtypes that comprise the larval nervous system. We summarize several applications of these datasets, including annotating the synaptome of swimming tadpoles and tracing the evolutionary origin of cell types such as the vertebrate telencephalon.
Project description:The large size and rapid development of amphibian embryos has facilitated ground-breaking discoveries in developmental biology. Here, we describe the embryogenesis of the Budgett's frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis), an unusual species with eggs that are over twice the diameter of laboratory Xenopus, and embryos that can tolerate higher temperatures to develop into a tadpole four times more rapidly. In addition to detailing their early development, we demonstrate that, like Xenopus, these embryos are amenable to explant culture assays and can express exogenous transcripts in a tissue-specific manner. Moreover, the steep developmental trajectory and large scale of Lepidobatrachus make it exceptionally well-suited for morphogenesis research. For example, the developing organs of the Budgett's frog are massive compared to those of most model species, and are composed of larger individual cells, thereby affording increased subcellular resolution of early vertebrate organogenesis. Furthermore, we found that complete limb regeneration, which typically requires months to achieve in most vertebrate models, occurs in a matter of days in the Budgett's tadpole, which substantially accelerates the pace of experimentation. Thus, the unusual combination of the greater size and speed of the Budgett's frog model provides inimitable advantages for developmental studies-and a novel inroad to address the mechanisms of spatiotemporal scaling during evolution.
Project description:Overlapping offspring occurs when eggs are laid in a nest containing offspring from earlier reproduction. Earlier studies showed that the parentage is not always obvious due to difficulties in field observation and/or alternative breeding tactics. To unveil the parentage between overlapping offspring and parents is critical in understanding oviposition site selection and the reproductive strategies of parents. Amplectant pairs of an arboreal-breeding frog, Kurixalus eiffingeri, lay eggs in tadpole-occupied nests where offspring of different life stages (embryos and tadpoles) coexist. We used five microsatellite DNA markers to assess the parentage between parents and overlapping offspring. We also tested the hypothesis that the male or female frog would breed in the same breeding site because of the scarcity of nest sites. Results showed varied parentage patterns, which may differ from the phenomenon of overlapping egg clutches reported earlier. Parentage analyses showed that only 58 and 25% of the tadpole-occupied stumps were reused by the same male and female respectively, partially confirming our prediction. Re-nesting by the same individual was more common in males than females, which is most likely related to the cost of tadpole feeding and/or feeding schemes of females. On the other hand, results of parentage analyses showed that about 42 and 75% of male and female respectively bred in tadpole-occupied stumps where tadpoles were genetically unrelated. Results of a nest-choice experiment revealed that 40% of frogs chose tadpole-occupied bamboo cups when we presented identical stumps, without or with tadpoles, suggesting that the habitat saturation hypothesis does not fully explain why frogs used the tadpole-occupied stumps. Several possible benefits of overlapping offspring with different life stages were proposed. Our study highlights the importance of integrating molecular data with field observations to better understand the reproductive biology and nest site selection of anuran amphibians.
Project description:Tadpoles of Hyperolius castaneus and Hyperolius jackie were found in the Nyungwe National Park in Rwanda and adjacent areas. Tadpoles of both species were identified by DNA-barcoding. At the shore of a bog pool three clutches of Hyperolius castaneus of apparently different age, all laid on moss pads (Polytrichum commune, Isotachis aubertii) or grass tussocks (Andropogon shirensis) 2-5 cm above the water level, were found. One clutch of Hyperolius castaneus was infested by larval dipterid flies. The most recently laid clutch contained about 20 eggs within a broad egg-jelly envelope. The eggs were attached to single blades of a tussock and distributed over a vertical distance of 8 cm. A pair of Hyperolius castaneus found in axillary amplexus was transported in a plastic container to the lab for observation. The pair deposited a total of 57 eggs (15 eggs attached to the upper wall of the transport container, 42 eggs floated in the water). Embryogenesis of the clutch was monitored in the plastic container at 20 ± 2 °C (air temperature) and documented by photos until Gosner Stage 25. The description of the tadpole of Hyperolius castaneus is based on a Gosner Stage 29 individual from a series of 57 tadpoles (Gosner stages 25-41). The description of the tadpole of Hyperolius jackie is based on a Gosner Stage 32 individual from a series of 43 tadpoles (Gosner stages 25-41). Egg laying behavior and embryogenesis are unknown for Hyperolius jackie. The labial tooth row formula for both species is 1/3(1) with a narrow median gap of the tooth row. Variation in external morphology was observed in size and labial tooth row formula within the species. With the tadpole descriptions of Hyperolius castaneus and Hyperolius jackie, 36 tadpoles of the 135 known Hyperolius species have been described, including five of the eleven Hyperolius species known from Rwanda.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Zygotic transcription in fish embryos initiates around the time of gastrulation, and all prior development is initiated and controlled by maternally derived messenger RNAs. Atlantic cod egg and embryo viability is variable, and it is hypothesized that the early development depends upon the feature of these maternal RNAs. Both the length and the presence of specific motifs in the 3'UTR of maternal RNAs are believed to regulate expression and stability of the maternal transcripts. Therefore, the aim of this study was to characterize the overall composition and 3'UTR structure of the most common maternal RNAs found in cod eggs and pre-zygotic embryos. RESULTS: 22229 Sanger-sequences were obtained from 3'-end sequenced cDNA libraries prepared from oocyte, 1-2 cell, blastula and gastrula stages. Quantitative PCR revealed that EST copy number below 9 did not reflect the gene expression profile. Consequently genes represented by less than 9 ESTs were excluded from downstream analyses, in addition to sequences with low-quality gene hits. This provided 12764 EST sequences, encoding 257 unique genes, for further analysis. Mitochondrial transcripts accounted for 45.9-50.6% of the transcripts isolated from the maternal stages, but only 12.2% of those present at the onset of zygotic transcription. 3'UTR length was predicted in nuclear sequences with poly-A tail, which identified 191 3'UTRs. Their characteristics indicated a more complex regulation of transcripts that are abundant prior to the onset of zygotic transcription. Maternal and stable transcripts had longer 3'UTR (mean 187.1 and 208.8 bp) and more 3'UTR isoforms (45.7 and 34.6%) compared to zygotic transcripts, where 15.4% had 3'UTR isoforms and the mean 3'UTR length was 76 bp. Also, diversity and the amount of putative polyadenylation motifs were higher in both maternal and stable transcripts. CONCLUSIONS: We report on the most pronounced processes in the maternally transferred cod transcriptome. Maternal stages are characterized by a rich abundance of mitochondrial transcripts. Maternal and stable transcripts display longer 3'UTRs with more variation of both polyadenylation motifs and 3'UTR isoforms. These data suggest that cod eggs possess a complex array of maternal RNAs which likely act to tightly regulate early developmental processes in the newly fertilized egg.
Project description:The developing chicken blastoderm can be temporarily maintained in dormancy below physiological zero temperature. However, prolonged preincubation egg storage impairs normal morphological and physiological development of embryos in a potential example of fetal programming (in this case, "embryonic programming"). We investigated how preincubation egg storage conditions (temperature, duration, hypoxia, and hypercapnia) affects viability, body mass, and physiological variables and functions in day 15 chicken embryos. Embryo viability was impaired in eggs stored for 2 and 3 weeks, with the effects greater at 22°C compared to 15°C. However, embryo size was reduced in eggs stored at 15°C compared with 22°C. Phenotypic change resulting from embryonic programming was evident in the fact that preincubation storage at 15°C diminished hematocrit (Hct), red blood cell concentration ([RBC]), and hemoglobin concentration ([Hb]). Storage duration at 15°C more severely affected the time course (2, 6, and 24 h) responses of Hct, [RBC], and [Hb] to progressive hypoxia and hypercapnia induced by submersion compared with storage duration at 22°C. The time-specific regulation of acid-base balance was changed progressively with storage duration at both 22 and 15°C preincubation storages. Consequently, preincubation egg storage at 22°C resulted in poor viability compared with eggs stored at 15°C, but size and physiological functions of embryos in eggs stored for 1-2 weeks were worse in eggs stored in the cooler than stored under room conditions. Avian eggs thus prove to be useful for examining developmental consequences to physiology of altered preincubation thermal environment in very early stages of development (embryonic programming).