Identification of mRNAs that are present at early stages of embryogenesis is critical for a better understanding of development. To this end, cDNA libraries were constructed from germinal vesicle-stage oocytes, in vivo-produced four-cell- and blastocyst-stage embryos, and from in vitro-produced four-cell- and blastocyst-stage embryos. Randomly picked clones (10 848) were sequenced from the 3′ end and those of sufficient quality (8066, 74%) were clustered into groups of sequence similarity (>95% identity), resulting in 2489 clusters. The sequence of the longest representative expressed sequence tag (EST) of each cluster was compared with GenBank and TIGR. Scores below 200 were considered unique, and 1114 (44.8%) did not have a match in either database. Sequencing from the 5′ end yielded 12 of 37 useful annotations, suggesting that one third of the 1114 might be identifiable, still leaving over 700 unique ESTs. Virtual Northerns compared between the stages identified numerous genes where expression appears to change from the germinal vesicle oocyte to the four-cell stage, from the four-cell to blastocyst stage, and between in vitro- and in vivo-derived four-cell- and blastocyst-stage embryos. This is the first large-scale sequencing project on early pig embryogenesis and has resulted in the discovery of a large number of genes as well as possible stage-specific expression. Because many of these ESTs appear to not be in the public databases, their addition will be useful for transcriptional profiling experiments conducted on early pig embryos.
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