Cloning by somatic nuclear transfer is an inefficient process in which some of the cloned animals die shortly after birth and display organ abnormalities. In an effort to determine the possible genetic causes of neonatal death and organ abnormalities, we used real-time quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction to examine expression patterns of eight developmentally important genes (PCAF, Xist, FGFR2, PDGFRa, FGF10, BMP4, Hsp70.1, and VEGF) in six organs (heart, liver, spleen, lung, kidney, and brain) of both cloned bovines that died soon after birth (n = 9) and normal control calves produced by artificial insemination. In somatic cloning of cattle, fibroblasts have often been used for doner nuclei, and the effect of the age of the fibroblast donor cells on gene expression profiles was investigated. Aberrant expressions of seven genes were found in these clones. The majority of aberrantly expressed genes were common in clones derived from adult fibroblast (AF) and in clones derived from fetal fibroblast (FF) compared to controls, whereas some genes were dysregulated either in AF cell-derived or in FF cell-derived clones. For the studied genes, kidney was the organ least affected by gene dysregulation, and heart was the organ most affected, in which five genes were aberrant. Most dysregulations (12 of 19) were up-regulation, but PDGFRa only showed down-regulation. VEGF, BMP-4, PCAF, and Hsp70.1 were extremely dysregulated, whereas the other four genes had a low level of gene dysregulation. Our results suggest that the aberrant gene expression occurred in most tissues of cloned bovines that died soon after birth. For each specific gene, aberrant expression resulting from nuclear transfer was tissue-specific. Because these genes play important roles in embryo development and organogenesis, the aberrant transcription patterns detected in these clones may contribute to the defects of organs reported in neonatal death of clones.
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