University of Oulu

Paloviita, P., Hydén-Granskog, C., Yohannes, D. A., Paluoja, P., Kere, J., Tapanainen, J. S., Krjutškov, K., Tuuri, T., Võsa, U., & Vuoristo, S. (2021). Small RNA expression and miRNA modification dynamics in human oocytes and early embryos. Genome Research 31(8), 1474–1485.

Small RNA expression and miRNA modification dynamics in human oocytes and early embryos

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Author: Paloviita, Pauliina1; Hydén-Granskog, Christel2; Yohannes, Dawit A.1;
Organizations: 1University of Helsinki, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
2Helsinki University Hospital, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 00029, Helsinki, Finland
3Competence Centre for Health Technologies, 50411, Tartu, Estonia
4Karolinska Institutet, Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, 14152, Huddinge, Sweden
5Stem Cells and Metabolism Research Program, University of Helsinki, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
6Folkhälsan Research Center, 00290, Helsinki, Finland
7Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Oulu, 90014, Oulu, Finland
8Oulu University Hospital, Medical Research Centre, PEDEGO Research Unit, 90029, Oulu, Finland
9Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Tartu, 50406, Tartu, Estonia
10Estonian Genome Center, Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, 51010, Tartu, Estonia
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 6.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-06-22


Small noncoding RNAs (sRNAs) play important roles during the oocyte-to-embryo transition (OET), when the maternal phenotype is reprogrammed and the embryo genome is gradually activated. The transcriptional program driving early human development has been studied with the focus mainly on protein-coding RNAs, and expression dynamics of sRNAs remain largely unexplored. We profiled sRNAs in human oocytes and early embryos using an RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) method suitable for low inputs of material. We show that OET in humans is temporally coupled with the transition from predominant expression of oocyte short piRNAs (os-piRNAs) in oocytes, to activation of microRNA (miRNA) expression in cleavage stage embryos. Additionally, 3′ mono- and oligoadenylation of miRNAs is markedly increased in zygotes. We hypothesize that this may modulate the function or stability of maternal miRNAs, some of which are retained throughout the first cell divisions in embryos. This study is the first of its kind elucidating the dynamics of sRNA expression and miRNA modification along a continuous trajectory of early human development and provides a valuable data set for in-depth interpretative analyses.

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Series: Genome research
ISSN: 1088-9051
ISSN-E: 1088-9051
ISSN-L: 1088-9051
Volume: 31
Issue: 8
Pages: 1474 - 1485
DOI: 10.1101/gr.268193.120
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3111 Biomedicine
Funding: The study was supported by grants from Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation and Sigrid Jusélius Foundation to J.S.T., S.V., and J.K., Academy of Finland (295760) and Helsinki University Hospital Funds to J.S.T., and the Doctoral Programme in Biomedicine to P. Paloviita.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 295760
Detailed Information: 295760 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2021 Paloviita et al.; Published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press. This article is distributed exclusively by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press for the first six months after the full-issue publication date (see After six months, it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International), as described at