Oligo-dT selected spermatozoal transcript profiles differ among higher and lower fertility dairy sires

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Spermatozoal messenger RNA (mRNA) has the potential as a molecular marker for sire fertility because this population can reflect gene expression that occurred during spermatogenesis and may have a functional role in early embryonic development. The goal of this study was to compare the oligo-dT selected spermatozoal transcript profiles of higher fertility (Conception Rate (CR) 1.8–3.5) and lower fertility (CR −2.9 to −0.4) sires using Ribonucleic Acid Sequencing (RNA-Seq). A total of 3227 transcripts and 5366 transcripts were identified in the higher and lower fertility populations, respectively. While common transcripts between the two populations were identified (2422 transcripts), several transcripts were also unique to the fertility populations including 805 transcripts that were unique to the higher fertility population and 2944 transcripts that were unique to the lower fertility population. From gene ontological analysis, the transcripts unique to each fertility population differed in Biological Processes (BP), including enrichment of regulatory transcripts for growth and protein kinase activity in the higher fertility bulls. Biological variation in transcript presence among individual sires was also found. Of the candidate fertility spermatozoal transcripts chosen from the RNA-Seq population analysis reported here and previous publications, COX7C was negatively correlated with sire fertility. Using high-throughput sequencing, candidate spermatozoal transcripts were identified for further study as potential markers for sire fertility.

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Animal Reproduction Science