Both spatial characteristics and temporal features are often the subjects of concern in physical, social, and biological studies. This work tackles the clustering problems for time course data in which the cluster number and clustering structure change with respect to time, dubbed time-variant clustering. We developed a hierarchical model that simultaneously clusters the objects at every time point and describes the relationships of the clusters between time points. The hidden layer of this model is a generalized form of branching processes. A reversible-jump Markov Chain Monte Carlo method was implemented for model inference, and a feature selection procedure was developed. We applied this method to explore an open question in preimplantation embryonic development. Our analyses using single-cell gene expression data suggested that the earliest cell fate decision could start at the 4-cell stage in mice, earlier than the commonly thought 8- to 16-cell stage. These results together with independent experimental data from single-cell RNA-seq provided support against a prevailing hypothesis in mammalian development.
It remains an open question when and how the first cell fate decision is made in mammals. Using deep single-cell RNA-seq of matched sister blastomeres, we report highly reproducible inter-blastomere differences among 10 2-cell and five 4-cell mouse embryos. Inter-blastomere gene expression differences dominated between-embryo differences and noise, and were sufficient to cluster sister blastomeres into distinct groups. Dozens of protein-coding genes exhibited reproducible bimodal expression in sister blastomeres, which cannot be explained by random fluctuations. The protein expression of one gene out of four of these bimodal genes tested, Gadd45a, exhibited clear inter-blastomeric contrasts. We traced some of the bimodal mRNA expressions to embryonic genome activation, and others to blastomere-specific RNA depletion. Inter-blastomere differences created coexpression gene networks that were much stronger and larger than those that can possibly be created by random noise. The highly correlated gene pairs at the 4-cell stage overlapped with those showing the same directions of differential expression between inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm (TE). These data substantiate the hypothesis of inter-blastomere differences in 2- and 4-cell mouse embryos, and associate these differences with ICM/TE differences.
SummaryOocyte developmental competence depends on maternal stores that support development throughout a transcriptionally silent period during early embryogenesis. Previous attempts to investigate transcripts associated with oocyte competence have relied on prospective models, which are mostly based on morphological criteria. Using a retrospective model, we quantitatively compared mRNA among oocytes with different embryo development competence. A cytoplasm biopsy was removed from in vitro matured oocytes to perform comparative analysis of amounts of global polyadenylated (polyA) mRNA and housekeeping gene transcripts. After parthenogenetic activation of biopsied oocytes, presumptive zygotes were cultured individually in vitro and oocytes were classified according to embryo development: (i) blocked before the 8-cell stage; (ii) blocked between the 8-cell and morulae stages; or (iii) developed to the blastocyst stage. Sham-manipulated controls confirmed that biopsies did not alter development outcome. Total polyA mRNA amounts correlate with oocyte diameter but not with the ability to develop to the 8-cell and blastocyst stages. The last was also confirmed by relative quantification of GAPDH, H2A and Hprt1 transcripts. In conclusion, we describe a novel retrospective model to identify putative markers of development competence in single oocytes and demonstrate that global mRNA amounts at the metaphase II stage do not correlate with embryo development in vitro.
To understand the biology and evolution of ruminants, the cattle genome was sequenced to about sevenfold coverage. The cattle genome contains a minimum of 22,000 genes, with a core set of 14,345 orthologs shared among seven mammalian species of which 1217 are absent or undetected in noneutherian (marsupial or monotreme) genomes. Cattle-specific evolutionary breakpoint regions in chromosomes have a higher density of segmental duplications, enrichment of repetitive elements, and species-specific variations in genes associated with lactation and immune responsiveness. Genes involved in metabolism are generally highly conserved, although five metabolic genes are deleted or extensively diverged from their human orthologs. The cattle genome sequence thus provides a resource for understanding mammalian evolution and accelerating livestock genetic improvement for milk and meat production.
Summary The mRNAs accumulated in oocytes provide support for embryo development until embryo genomic activation. We hypothesized that the maternal mRNA stock present in bovine oocytes is associated with embryo development until the blastocyst stage. To test our hypothesis, we analyzed the transcriptome of the oocyte and correlated the results with the embryo development. Our goal was to identify genes expressed in the oocyte that correlate with its ability to develop to the blastocyst stage. A fraction of oocyte cytoplasm was biopsied using micro-aspiration and stored for further expression analysis. Oocytes were activated chemically, cultured individually and classified according to their capacity to develop in vitro to the blastocyst stage. Microarray analysis was performed on mRNA extracted from the oocyte cytoplasm fractions and correlated with its ability to develop to the blastocyst stage (good quality oocyte) or arrest at the 8-16-cell stage (bad quality oocyte). The expression of 4320 annotated genes was detected in the fractions of cytoplasm that had been collected from oocytes matured in vitro. Gene ontology classification revealed that enriched gene expression of genes was associated with certain biological processes: RNA processing, translation and mRNA metabolic process. Genes that are important to the molecular functions of RNA binding and translation factor activity, RNA binding were also enriched in oocytes. We identified 29 genes with differential expression between the two groups of oocytes compared (good versus bad quality). The content of mRNAs expressed in metaphase II oocytes influences the activation of the embryonic genome and enables further develop to the blastocyst stage.
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