Amplification of representative cDNA pools from single human oocytes and pronucleate embryos

Anthony D. Metcalfe, Debra J. Bloor, Brian A. Lieberman, Susan J. Kimber, Daniel R. Brison*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


In the human embryo, gene expression studies have been hindered by the scarcity of material and the fact that in vitro fertilisation (IVF) embryos available for research are usually of poor quality and are, therefore, not representative of normal development. This has led most authors to study individual human embryos, using conventional RT-PCR strategies, which permit analysis of only a few genes. Variability in the expression of genes between individual embryos is characteristic of these studies. In this study, a global RT-PCR strategy has been used, allowing the analysis of an almost infinite number of genes from a single embryo. We have used oocytes, which failed to fertilise and representative pronucleate embryos donated from cycles in which the patient conceived, to investigate possible variability in transcript abundance between individual embryos. We have screened oocytes and embryos for a panel of genes including β-actin (expressed in 24/28 oocytes, 6/6 pronuclear embryos), the integrins β1 (17/28 oocytes, 6/6 pronuclear embryos) and β5 (8/28 oocytes, 5/6 pronuclear embryos), and the apoptotic regulators BCL-2 (20/28 oocytes, 2/6 pronuclear embryos) and BAX (21/28 oocytes, 5/6 pronuclear embryos). The expression of the pro-apoptotic regulator BAX increased in human oocytes following prolonged periods of culture. Overall, patterns of gene transcript presence showed variation between embryos and this was independent of either zona removal or lysis conditions. Pronucleate embryos showed less variation, however, even sibling embryos from the patient did not express an identical subset of genes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Reproduction and Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2003


  • BAX
  • Embryo
  • Gene transcript
  • PolyA PCR
  • Preimplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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