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Embryo-Uterine Interactions

Theme leader : Dr. Eric Asselin, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières 

Problem: Preimplantation failure accounts for 50 % of gestational loss in mammals and is believed to be caused by errors in embryogenesis coupled with failure of the implantation process.  

Plan: We will focus on processes that confer developmental survivability. Investigation of embryogenesis combines our unique strengths in somatic cell nuclear transfer, embryo genomic analysis and epigenetic technology. We will study the role of DNA methylation and imprinted genes, following manipulations that compromise embryo survival (e.g. SCNT) using novel modifications of restriction landmark genomic scanning and new locus-specific techniques. RQR members will evaluate early embryonic development by establishing the role of histones and their modification. We will investigate embryo-uterine interactions with a focus on the bovine model during critical periods of pregnancy failure. The RQR has the unique capability to integrate basic and veterinary clinical research, allowing experimental paradigms such as asynchronous embryo transfer. By this means, we will investigate eicosanoid, interferon and other embryo/uterine signaling molecules as well the role of reactive oxygen species in the endometrium. Basic and clinical perspectives of normal and aberrant bovine placental formation and function will be studied. In mice, we will study the effects of uterine-specific transgenic modification of signaling molecules on gestation. Novel transgenic RNA interference models will be employed. The global transcriptome in a carnivore model of embryonic diapause will be analyzed to provide insight into developmental arrest. In addition, determination of genomic markers for embryo survival in pigs will be intensified under the auspices of the RQR. We will discern genomic variation using global and candidate gene approaches. The combined force of these investigations will yield rapid advances in improving embryo survival.