The postovulatory rise in circulating progesterone (P4) concentrations is associated with increased pregnancy success in beef and dairy cattle. Our study objective was to determine how elevated P4 alters endometrial gene expression to advance conceptus development. Synchronized heifers were inseminated (Day 0) and randomly assigned to pregnant high P4 or to pregnant normal P4. All high P4 groups received a P4-release intravaginal device on Day 3 after insemination that increased P4 concentrations up to Day 7 (P < 0.05). Tissue was collected on Day 5, 7, 13, or 16 of pregnancy, and endometrial gene expression was analyzed using the bovine Affymetrix (Santa Clara, CA) microarrays. Microarray analyses demonstrated that the largest number of P4-regulated genes coincided with the day when the P4 profiles were different for the longest period. Genes with the largest fold change increase (such as DGAT2 and MSTN [also known as GDF8]) were associated with triglyceride synthesis and glucose transport, which can be utilized as an energy source for the developing embryo. Temporal changes occurred at different stages of early pregnancy, with the greatest difference occurring between well-separated stages of conceptus development. Validation of a number of genes by quantitative real-time PCR indicated that P4 supplementation advances endometrial gene expression by altering the time (FABP, DGAT2, and MSTN) or duration (CRYGS) of expression pattern for genes that contribute to the composition of histotroph.
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Vol. 81 • No. 4