The aims of this study were to 1) identify the earliest transcriptional response of the bovine endometrium to the presence of the conceptus (using RNAseq), 2) investigate if these genes are regulated by interferon tau (IFNT) in vivo, and 3) determine if they are predictive of the pregnancy status of postpartum dairy cows. RNAseq identified 459 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) between pregnant and cyclic endometria on day 16. Quantitative real-time PCR analysis of selected genes revealed PARP12, ZNFX1, HERC6, IFI16, RNF213, and DDX58 expression increased in pregnant compared with cyclic endometria on day 16 and were directly upregulated by intrauterine infusion of IFNT in vivo for 2 h (P < 0.05). On day 13 following estrous endometrial expression of nine genes increased [ARHGAP1, MGC127874, LIMS2, TBC1D1, FBXL7, C25H16orf71, LOC507810, ZSWIM4, and one novel gene (ENSBTAT00000050193)] and seven genes decreased (SERBP1, SRGAP2, AL7A1, TBK1, F2RL2, MGC128929, and WBSCR17; P < 0.05) in pregnant compared with cyclic heifers. Of these DEGs, significant differences in expression between pregnant and cyclic endometria were maintained on day 16 for F2RL2, LIMS2, LOC507810, MGC127874, TBC1D1, WBSCR17, and ZSWIM4 (P < 0.05) both their expression was not directly regulated by IFNT in vivo. Analysis of the expression of selected interferon-stimulated genes in blood samples from postpartum dairy cows revealed a significant increase (P < 0.05) in expression of ZXFX1, PARP12, SAMD9, and HERC6 on day 18 following artificial insemination in cows subsequently confirmed pregnant compared with cyclic controls. In conclusion, RNAseq identified a number of novel pregnancy-associated genes in the endometrium of cattle during early pregnancy that are not regulated by IFNT in vivo. In addition, a number of genes that are directly regulated by short term exposure to IFNT in vivo are differentially expressed on day 18 following estrus detection in the blood of postpartum dairy cows depending on their pregnancy status.
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