• Epigenetic patterns established during early bovine embryogenesis via DNA methylation and histone modification patterns are essential for proper gene expression and embryonic development. We have previously discovered that suppression of absent, small, or homeotic-like (ASH2L) with small interfering RNA (siRNA) had no significant effect during in vitro embryo development when compared with its respective control (31.3 ± 2.0% standard error of the mean, n = 466 v. 34.8 ± 1.9%, n = 418). Analysing DNA methylation and histone modifications via immunocytochemistry will further explain the role of ASH2L during embryonic development, specifically at the blastocyst stage. In this experiment, we obtained mature bovine oocytes from a commercial supplier (De Soto Biosciences, Seymour, TN) and preformed IVF following standard laboratory protocol. Eighteen hours after IVF, presumptive zygotes were divided into 3 treatments: noninjected controls, nontargeting siRNA injected controls (siNULL), and injection with siRNA targeting ASH2L (siASH2L). Each embryo was injected with ~100 pL of 20 nM siRNA previously verified to suppress expression of ASH2L by ~79%. Embryos were cultured in Bovine Evolve (Zenith Biotech, Guilford, CT) supplemented with 4 mg mL–1 of BSA (Probumin, Millipore) for 7 days. Blastocysts from each treatment (N = 601) were fixed and prepared for immunocytochemistry following standard laboratory protocol. The following primary antibodies were used to target specific DNA and histone methylation marks: 5mc mAb (Epigentek, Farmingdale, NY), 5hmc pAb, H3K4me3 pAb (Active Motif, Carlsbad, CA), H3K4me2 pAb, H3K9me2–3 mAb, and H3K27me3 mAb (Abcam, Cambridge, MA). Embryos were fluorescently labelled with the following secondary antibodies: Alexa Flour 488 Goat Anti-Rabbit, Alexa 488 Donkey Anti-Goat, and Alexa Flour 594 Goat Anti-Mouse (Invitrogen, Carlsbad, CA). The DNA was stained with Hoechst 33342 (Invitrogen). Fluorescent images were captured using the Zeiss Stallion digital imaging work station. Ratio averages (targeting mark/DNA) were calculated and statistical analysis performed using one-way ANOVA and Tukey’s honestly significant difference to assess treatment effects. The ratio of DNA methylation to total DNA increased in siASH2L as compared with control and siNULL embryos (0.35 ± 0.01, 0.26 ± 0.02, and 0.30 ± 0.01, respectively; P < 0.01). The 5hmC was inversely related to 5mC levels and decreased in siASH2L embryos (0.75 ± 0.01, 0.93 ± 0.02, 0.87 ± 0.02, respectively; P < 0.0001). The H3K4me3 and H3K27me3 are also inversely related with decreased H3K4me3 in siASH2L versus control and siNULL embryos (0.48 ± 0.02, 0.57 ± 0.02, 0.58 ± 0.02, respectively; P < 0.001) and increased H3K27me3 (0.62 ± 0.02, 0.053 ± 0.01, 0.54 ± 0.02, respectively; P < 0.001). No differences were observed in H3K9me2–3 or H3K4me2 labelling across treatments. These results indicate that ASH2L may play a role in DNA methylation by decreasing 5mc and 5hmc conversion, which is a key event during early embryonic development. Suppression of ASH2L also alters global levels of H3H4me3 and H3K27me3, which may lead to transcription aberrations. Further analysis of siASH2L embryos via RNA-seq will help define its role during early embryonic development.

published proceedings

  • Reproduction, Fertility and Development

author list (cited authors)

  • Snyder, M. D., Pryor, J. H., Peoples, M. D., Williamson, G. L., Golding, M. C., Westhusin, M. E., & Long, C. R.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Snyder, MD||Pryor, JH||Peoples, MD||Williamson, GL||Golding, MC||Westhusin, ME||Long, CR

publication date

  • January 2016