The equine chorioallantois (CA) undergoes complex physical and biochemical changes during labor. However, the molecular mechanisms controlling these changes are still unclear. Therefore, the current study aimed to characterize the transcriptome of equine CA during spontaneous labor and compare it with that of normal preterm CA. Placental samples were collected postpartum from mares with normal term labor (TL group, n = 4) and from preterm not in labor mares (330 days GA; PTNL group, n = 4). Our study identified 4137 differentially expressed genes (1820 upregulated and 2317 downregulated) in CA during TL as compared with PTNL. TL was associated with the upregulation of several proinflammatory mediators (MHC-I, MHC-II, NLRP3, CXCL8, and MIF). Also, TL was associated with the upregulation of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP1, MMP2, MMP3, and MMP9) with subsequent extracellular matrix degradation and apoptosis, as reflected by upregulation of several apoptosis-related genes (ATF3, ATF4, FAS, FOS, and BIRC3). In addition, TL was associated with downregulation of 21 transcripts coding for collagens. The upregulation of proteases, along with the downregulation of collagens, is believed to be implicated in separation and rupture of the CA during TL. Additionally, TL was associated with downregulation of transcripts coding for proteins essential for progestin synthesis (SRD5A1 and AKR1C1) and angiogenesis (VEGFA and RTL1), as well as upregulation of prostaglandin synthesis-related genes (PTGS2 and PTGES), which could reflect the physiological switch in placental endocrinology and function during TL. In conclusion, our findings revealed the equine CA gene expression signature in spontaneous labor at term, which improves our understanding of the molecular mechanisms triggering labor.
Transcriptomic analysis of equine chorioallantois has identified the key regulators and pathways underlying placental separation and weakening during the spontaneous term labor.