, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 262-269

Expression of transforming growth factor alpha (TGF-α) gene in mouse embryonic development

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Abstract

Purpose: The expression of genes for TGF-α, epidermal growth factor (EGF), and the EGF receptor (EGFR) in mouse blastocysts was evaluated by the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). We evaluated the effects of TGF-α and EGF on the development of mouse embryo prior to implantation.

Results: The results revealed the presence of transcripts of TGF-α and EGFR. However, EGF mRNA was not observed in repeated experiments. None of these growth factors influenced the rate of development from the two-cell stage to the blastocyst stage when added to the culture medium. These effects were further examined on measuring the incorporation of tritiated thymidine and leucine, providing indices of the synthesis of DNA and protein, respectively. A concentration of only 0.1 ng/ml of TGF-α, which shares a cell surface receptor with EGF, stimulated the synthesis of both DNA and protein. EGF at a concentration of 10 ng/ml stimulated the synthesis of DNA and protein by blastocysts. To explore autocrine effects of TGF-α on the rate of blastocoel expansion, TGF-α antisense oligodeoxynucleotides was used to reduce expression of the TGF-α gene. TGF-α at a concentration of 0.1 ng/ml stimulates the rate of blastocoel expansion in early cavitating mouse blastocysts. In contrast, TGF-α antisense oligonucleotides significantly reduced the rate of expansion.

Conclusions: Our present observations suggest that TGF-α/EGF and the EGFR may be involved in regulating embryonic development. In particular, TGF-α may serve as an autocrine factor in the regulation of embryonic development.