Indexed on: 27 Jan '98Published on: 27 Jan '98Published in: Genomics
In this paper, the construction, evaluation, and application of cDNA libraries from eight unfertilized oocytes and single four-cell-, seven-cell-, and blastocyst-stage embryos are described. Rapid, reproducible, and efficient procedures for the construction of PCR-based cDNA libraries from fewer than 10 cells were first developed in small populations of fibroblast cells. The human embryo libraries display complexities sufficient (between 10(5) and 10(6) clones) to represent the entire active gene population at these early stages of human development. The ubiquitous cytoskeletal elements, beta-actin, keratin-18, and alpha-tubulin, were detected at the expected frequency. Sequencing of consecutively picked random clones, without selection, showed the presence of a variety of sequences, such as the human transposable element, LINE-1 and Alu repeat sequences, housekeeping genes, and tissue-specific genes, such as alpha-globin and FMR-1. In addition to cDNAs corresponding to known ESTs (expressed sequence tags) in the GenBank and dbEST databases, a high proportion of novel sequences were detected. Applications of the libraries to several areas of interest, such as expression of CpG-island-containing "tissue-specific" genes, developmental genes expressed in a stage-specific manner, and a search for monoallelic expression of imprinted genes, are described. The libraries are a valuable resource for the study of gene expression during human preimplantation development and obviate the need for research on the human embryos themselves.