Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Genomics and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Global gene expression in endometrium of high and low fertility heifers during the mid-luteal phase of the estrous cycle

Aideen P Killeen12, Dermot G Morris3, David A Kenny1, Michael P Mullen3, Michael G Diskin3 and Sinéad M Waters1*

Author Affiliations

1 Teagasc, Animal and Bioscience Research Department, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Grange, Dunsany, County Meath, Ireland

2 UCD School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, College of Life Sciences, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland

3 Teagasc, Animal and Bioscience Research Department, Animal and Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Mellows Campus, Athenry, County Galway, Ireland

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Genomics 2014, 15:234  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-234

Published: 26 March 2014

Abstract

Background

In both beef and dairy cattle, the majority of early embryo loss occurs within the first 14 days following insemination. During this time-period, embryos are completely dependent on their maternal uterine environment for development, growth and ultimately survival, therefore an optimum uterine environment is critical to their survival. The objective of this study was to investigate whether differences in endometrial gene expression during the mid-luteal phase of the estrous cycle exist between crossbred beef heifers ranked as either high (HF) or low fertility (LF) (following four rounds of artificial insemination (AI)) using the Affymetrix® 23 K Bovine Gene Chip.

Results

Conception rates for each of the four rounds of AI were within a normal range: 70–73.3%. Microarray analysis of endometrial tissue collected on day 7 of the estrous cycle detected 419 differentially expressed genes (DEG) between HF (n = 6) and LF (n = 6) animals. The main gene pathways affected were, cellular growth and proliferation, angiogenesis, lipid metabolism, cellular and tissue morphology and development, inflammation and metabolic exchange. DEG included, FST, SLC45A2, MMP19, FADS1 and GALNT6.

Conclusions

This study highlights, some of the molecular mechanisms potentially controlling uterine endometrial function during the mid-luteal phase of the estrous cycle, which may contribute to uterine endometrial mediated impaired fertility in cattle. Differentially expressed genes are potential candidate genes for the identification of genetic variation influencing cow fertility, which may be incorporated into future breeding programmes.