Agroecology 3 min

Identification of 56 proteins involved in embryo–maternal interactions in the bovine oviduct

Maternal proteins that interact with the embryo in the bovine species, before and after activation of its genome in the oviduct, have been identified on a large scale for the first time. Potentially promoting pre-implantation development of the embryo and the establishment of in vivo gestation, these proteins could be used to improve in vitro culture media.

Published on 18 June 2020

illustration Identification of 56 proteins involved in embryo–maternal interactions in the bovine oviduct

The bovine embryo develops in contact with the oviductal fluid (OF) during the first 4–5 days of pregnancy.
The aim of this study was to decipher the protein interactions occurring between the developing embryo and surrounding OF. In-vitro produced 4–6 cell and morula embryos were incubated or not (controls) in post-ovulatory OF (OF-treated embryos) and proteins were then analyzed and quantified by high resolution mass spectrometry (MS) in both embryo groups and in OF.
A comparative analysis of MS data allowed the identification and quantification of 56 embryo-interacting proteins originated from the OF, including oviductin (OVGP1) and several annexins (ANXA1, ANXA2, ANXA4) as the most abundant ones. Some embryo-interacting proteins were developmental stage-specific, showing a modulating role of the embryo in protein interactions. Three interacting proteins (OVGP1, ANXA1 and PYGL) were immunolocalized in the perivitelline space and in blastomeres, showing that OF proteins were able to cross the zona pellucida and be taken up by the embryo. Interacting proteins were involved in a wide range of functions, among which metabolism and cellular processes were predominant.
This study identified for the first time a high number of oviductal embryo-interacting proteins, paving the way for further targeted studies of proteins potentially involved in the establishment of pregnancy in cattle.


Sylvie André


Marie Saint-Dizier Joint Research Unit for Reproductive and Behavioural Physiology

Charles Banliat Joint Research Unit for Reproductive and Behavioural Physiology



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