Interpretive Summary: DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation in early rabbit embryo: Consequence of in vitro culture.
By: Dr. Caitlin Vonderohe
An abstract published in the September 2016 issue of the Journal of Animal Science used early rabbit embryos to explore how early gene activation is affected by the in-vitro environment where the embryo grows (the culture media).
The goal of using assisted reproductive technologies is to establish and maintain a normal pregnancy. However, there are multiple challenges that can arise when using assisted reproductive technologies resulting in abnormal embryos and pregnancy failure. In fact, some methods used have shown to affect the embryos viability.
Bedhane and Salvaing (2016) elected to use rabbit embryos, as they are metabolically and developmentally similar to early human embryos. Methylation and hydroxymethylation are mechanisms that can modify how an embryo expresses, or does not express different genes. In the young embryo, these modifications are under the control of RNA and proteins inherited from the mother, but as the embryo ages, the embryonic genome will become activated and have control over what genes are expressed throughout development.
The authors hypothesized that the media that the embryos are grown in will affect how the embryonic genes are modified (via methylation and hydroxymethylation) during development. The authors chose two culture media that are commonly used in assisted reproductive technology.
The rabbit embryos had different gene modifications (methylation and hydroxymethylation) based on the type of media they were grown in, and these difference were not consistent across different levels of development. Bedhane and Salvaing state that this experiment should be repeated with bovine embryos before any solid conclusions can be drawn about how human embryos may be affected by choice of culture media in assisted reproductive technology.
To read the full abstract "DNA methylation and hydroxymethylation in early rabbit embryo: Consequence of in vitro culture," visit the Journal of Animal Science.