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Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences



Oocyte-derived maternal RNAs drive early embryogenesis when the newly formed embryo is transcriptionally inactive. Recent studies in zebrafish have identified the role of microRNAs during the maternal-to-embryonic transition (MET). MicroRNAs are short RNAs that bind to the 3' UTR of target mRNAs to repress their translation and accelerate their decay. Newborn ovary homeobox gene (NOBOX) is a transcription factor that is preferentially expressed in oocytes and essential for folliculogenesis in mice. NOBOX knockout mice are infertile and lack of NOBOX disrupts expression of many germ-cell specific genes and microRNAs. We recently reported the cloning and expression of bovine NOBOX during early embryonic development and our gene knockdown studies indicate that NOBOX is a maternal effect gene essential for early embryonic development. As NOBOX is a maternal transcript critical for development and NOBOX is depleted during early embryogenesis, we hypothesized that NOBOX is targeted by microRNAs for silencing and/or degradation.


Using an algorithm "MicroInspector", a potential microRNA recognition element (MRE) for miR-196a was identified in the 3' UTR of the bovine NOBOX mRNA. Expression analysis of miR-196a in bovine oocytes and during early embryonic development indicated that it is expressed both in oocytes and embryos and tends to increase at the four-cell and eight-cell stages. Ectopic expression of NOBOX and miR-196a in HeLa cells inhibited the expression of NOBOX protein compared to the control cells without miR-196a. Similarly, the activity of a luciferase construct containing the entire 3' UTR of bovine NOBOX was suppressed, and the regulation was abolished by mutations in the miR-196a binding site indicating that the predicted MRE is critical for the direct and specific binding of miR-196a to the NOBOX mRNA. Furthermore, ectopic expression of miR-196a mimic in bovine early embryos significantly reduced the NOBOX expression at the both mRNA and protein levels.


Collectively, our results demonstrate that miR-196a is a bona fide negative regulator of NOBOX during bovine early embryogenesis.

Source Citation

Tripurani, S.K., Lee, K., Wee, G. et al. MicroRNA-196a regulates bovine newborn ovary homeobox gene (NOBOX) expression during early embryogenesis. BMC Dev Biol 11, 25 (2011).


© 2011 Tripurani et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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