Sexual dimorphism among bovine embryos in their ability to make the transition to expanded blastocyst and in the expression of the signaling molecule IFN-τ

Melissa A. Larson, Koji Kimura, H. Michael Kubisch, R. Michael Roberts

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142 Citations (Scopus)


IFN-τ is a secretory product of trophectoderm of cattle, sheep, and their relatives and is expressed for a few days in early pregnancy after the blastocyst first forms. It serves to alert the mother that she is pregnant. A delayed or less than robust IFN-τ signal is a likely cause of embryonic loss. Here we have determined whether blastocyst production of IFN-τ, which is encoded by a cluster of genes on chromosome 9, differs between the sexes in cattle, as assessed by culture of in vitro-derived embryos on two different media, one complex (tissue culture medium 199 supplemented with serum) with coculture support, the other relatively simple (synthetic oviductal fluid plus albumin). With both media, female blastocysts produced approximately double the amount of IFN-τ as males, regardless of such variables as oocyte batch, blastocyst quality, hatching, and length of time in culture. However, in either tissue culture medium 199, which contains 5.5 mM D-glucose, or in synthetic oviductal fluid, in the presence but not in the absence of added glucose, significantly fewer female than male embryos were able to progress from the morula/early blastocyst stage to more advanced stages of development. It is possible that the differences between male and female embryos both in their production of IFN-τ and in their ability to progress in development in glucose-rich media are manifestations of phenomena that occur in vivo and provide plasticity in embryo selection during early pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9677-9682
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Aug 14 2001
Externally publishedYes



  • Embryo culture
  • In vitro maturation-in vitro fertilization
  • Sexual dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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