Tightly coordinated, reciprocal embryo-maternal interactions affect gene expression during early pregnancy. Recently, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as new players in the fine tuning of embryo development and implantation in mammals via posttranscriptional gene regulation mechanisms. Here, we integrated transcriptomic and computational approaches to profile miRNAs and miRNA synthesis and transport-related genes at different developmental stages of porcine conceptuses and trophoblast during early pregnancy in the pig. Using semiquantitative RT-PCR, we examined mRNA levels of 10 genes encoding proteins involved in miRNA synthesis and transport: DROSHA, DGCR8, XPO5, DICER1, TARBP2, TNRC6A, AGO1, AGO2, AGO3, and AGO4. Custom, multispecies microarrays were used to profile miRNAs. Prediction algorithms of miRNA-mRNA interactions allowed identification of target transcripts for the analyzed miRNAs. These included VEGF, LIF, PTGS2, and IL-6R, known to be crucial components of embryo-maternal interactions in the pig. Two selected miRNAs, miR-26a and miR-125b, were tested for the presence in the extracellular vesicles isolated from uterine luminal flushings during pregnancy. Results of in vitro study demonstrated that miRNAs, such as miR-125b, can regulate expression of genes crucial for embryo development and implantation in porcine endometrial luminal epithelial cells. For the first time, expression profiles of miRNAs and related genes in porcine conceptuses and trophoblast during maternal recognition of pregnancy and embryo implantation in the pig were described. Altogether, our results indicate potential roles of these small, noncoding RNAs in the early development of embryos and embryo-maternal cross-talk during early pregnancy in the pig.
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Vol. 92 • No. 1