Susanne E. Ulbrich1, Anna E. Groebner1, Stefan Bauersachs2
1Physiology Weihenstephan, Technische Universität München, Freising, Germany; 2Laboratory for Functional Genome Analysis (LAFUGA), Gene Center, LMU Munich
The development of a fertilized oocyte into a differentiated multi-cellular organism is a major challenge with regard to the orchestration of the expression of the mammalian genome. Highly complex networks of genes are temporally and spatially regulated during cellular differentiation to generate specific cell types. Embryonic development is critically influenced by external impacts in the female reproductive tract. A most critical phase of pregnancy in mammals is the pre- and peri-implantation period, during which the uterine environment plays a crucial role in supporting the development of the conceptus. The analytical description of the transcriptome, proteome and metabolome of the embryo-maternal interface is a prerequisite for the understanding of the complex regulatory processes taking place during this time. This review lines out potentials and limitations of different approaches to unravel the determinants of endometrial receptivity in cattle, the pig and the horse. Suitable in vivo and in vitro models, which have been used to elucidate factors participating in the embryo-maternal dialog are discussed. Taken together, transcriptome analyses and specified selective candidate gene driven approaches contribute to the understanding of endometrial function. The endometrium as sensor and driver of fertility may indicate the qualitative and quantitative nature of signaling molecules sent by the early embryo and in turn, accordingly impact on embryonic development.
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