The objectives of this study were to characterize changes in transcriptome of preimplantation conceptuses at the onset of elongation and associated changes in uterine histotroph composition and endometrial physiology. Lactating dairy cows (n = 160) had their ovulation synchronized by artificial insemination (study Day 0). On Day 15, uteri were flushed and endometrium tissue collected. Recovered conceptuses were classified based on morphology/length as ovoid (1–4 mm), tubular (5–19 mm), and filamentous (20–60 mm). Total RNA (n = 48) was subjected to transcriptome analysis. The uterine fluid (n = 30) was evaluated by mass spectrophotometry. Transcriptome analyses revealed drastic changes in the transition from ovoid to tubular and from tubular to filamentous. Differentially expressed genes were associated with cellular movement, cell-to-cell signaling, cellular assembly and organization, lipid metabolism, small molecule biochemistry, and molecular transport. Specific changes included reorganization of cytoskeleton and cell migration, arginine metabolism, growth factors signaling, and lipid metabolism. Functional analysis revealed fatty acids and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma as upstream regulators of transcriptome changes. Expression of PPARG increased 17-fold during the onset of elongation and was highly correlated with genes involved in lipid metabolism. The histotroph was rich in amino acids, lipids, saccharides, and other intermediate metabolites, and important changes in composition occurred in the presence of a conceptus. Pregnancy had a major impact on the concentrations of important lipids in the uterine fluid and expression of genes in the endometrium. Collectively, conceptus elongation involves remarkable changes in transcriptome, composition of the histotroph, and endometrial physiology, which help elucidate important events in uterine and conceptus biology at the onset of elongation.
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Vol. 94 • No. 4