Open Access Research article

Monoallelic maternal expression of STAT5A affects embryonic survival in cattle

Hasan Khatib1*, Christian Maltecca13, Ricky L Monson2, Valerie Schutzkus1 and Jack J Rutledge2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Dairy Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA

2 Department of Animal Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA

3 Department of Animal Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA

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BMC Genetics 2009, 10:13  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-10-13

Published: 10 March 2009



Reproductive disorders and infertility are surprisingly common in the human population as well as in other species. The decrease in fertility is a major cause of cow culling and economic loss in the dairy herd. The conception rate has been declining for the past 30–50 years. Conception rate is the product of fertilization and embryonic survival rates. In a previous study, we have identified associations of several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the signal transducer and activator 5A (STAT5A) with fertilization and survival rates in an in vitro experimental system. The objectives of this study are to fine map the STAT5A region in a search for causative mutations and to investigate the parent of origin expression of this gene.


We have performed a total of 5,222 fertilizations and produced a total of 3,696 in vitro fertilized embryos using gametes from 440 cows and eight bulls. A total of 37 SNPs were developed in a 63.4-kb region of genomic sequence that includes STAT5A, STAT3, and upstream and downstream sequences of these genes. SNP153137 (G/C) in exon 8 of STAT5A was associated with a significant variability in embryonic survival and fertilization rate compared to all other examined SNPs. Expression analysis revealed that STAT5A is primarily monoallelically expressed in early embryonic stages but biallelically expressed in later fetal stages. Furthermore, the occurrence of monoallelic maternal expression of STAT5A was significantly higher in blastocysts, while paternal expression was more frequent in degenerative embryos.


Our results imply that STAT5A affects embryonic survival in a manner influenced by developmental stage and allele parent of origin.