Groff AF, Resetkova N, DiDomenico F, Sakkas D, Penzias A, Rinn JL, Eggan K. 2019. RNA-seq as a tool for evaluating human embryo competence. Genome research. 29(10):1705-1718. Pubmed: 31548358 DOI:10.1101/gr.252981.119


The majority of embryos created through in vitro fertilization (IVF) do not implant. It seems plausible that rates of implantation would improve if we had a better understanding of molecular factors affecting embryo competence. Currently, the process of selecting an embryo for uterine transfer uses an ad hoc combination of morphological criteria, the kinetics of development, and genetic testing for aneuploidy. However, no single criterion can ensure selection of a viable embryo. In contrast, RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) of embryos could yield high-dimensional data, which may provide additional insight and illuminate the discrepancies among current selection criteria. Recent advances enabling the production of RNA-seq libraries from single cells have facilitated the application of this technique to the study of transcriptional events in early human development. However, these studies have not assessed the quality of their constituent embryos relative to commonly used embryological criteria. Here, we perform proof-of-principle advancement to embryo selection procedures by generating RNA-seq libraries from a trophectoderm biopsy as well as the remaining whole embryo. We combine state-of-the-art embryological methods with low-input RNA-seq to develop the first transcriptome-wide approach for assessing embryo competence. Specifically, we show the capacity of RNA-seq as a promising tool in preimplantation screening by showing that biopsies of an embryo can capture valuable information available in the whole embryo from which they are derived. Furthermore, we show that this technique can be used to generate a RNA-based digital karyotype and to identify candidate competence-associated genes. Together, these data establish the foundation for a future RNA-based diagnostic in IVF.
© 2019 Groff et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

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Kevin Eggan investigates the mechanisms that cause motor neuron degeneration in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), and seeks to translate new discoveries into new therapeutic options for patients.

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