Mammalian embryos can only survive if they attach to the uterus (implantation) and establish proper maternal-fetal interactions. To understand this complex implantation pathway, we have initiated genomic analysis with a systematic study of the cohort of genes expressed in extraembryonic cells that are derived from the conceptus and play a major role in this process. A total of 2103 cDNAs from the extraembryonic portion of 7.5-day post-conception mouse embryos yielded 3186 expressed sequence tags, ~40% of which were novel to the sequence databases. Furthermore, when 155 of the cDNA clones with no homology to previously detected genes were genetically mapped, apparent clustering of these expressed genes was detected in subregions of chromosomes 2, 7, 9 and 17, with 6.5% of the observed genes localized in the t-complex region of chromosome 17, which represents only ~1.5% of the mouse genome. In contrast, X-linked genes were under-represented. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR analyses of the mapped genes demonstrated that one third of the genes were expressed solely in extraembryonic tissue and an additional one third of the genes were expressed predominantly in the extraembryonic tissues. The over-representation of extraembryonic-expressed genes in dosage-sensitive autosomal imprinted regions and under-representation on the dosage-compensated X chromosome may reflect a need for tight quantitative control of expression during development.
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