Previous studies have shown that developmental kinetic rates following IVF are lower in female than in male blastocysts and that this may be related to differences in glucose metabolism. In addition, an inhibition of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K) inhibits glucose uptake in murine blastocysts. Therefore, the aim of this study was to identify and compare the expression of proteins involved in glucose metabolism (hexokinase-I, HK-I; phosphofructokinase-1, PFK-1; pyruvate kinase 1/2, PK1/2; glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, GAPDH; glucose transporter-1, GLUT-1; and glycogen synthase kinase-3, GSK-3) in male and female bovine blastocysts to determine whether PI3-K has a role in the regulation of the expression of these proteins. Hexokinase-I, PFK-1, PK1/2, GAPDH and GLUT-1 were present in bovine embryos. Protein expression of these proteins and GSK-3 was significantly higher in male compared with female blastocysts. Inhibition of PI3-K with LY294002 significantly decreased the expression of HK-I, PFK-1, GAPDH, GSK-3A/B and GLUT-1. Results showed that the expression of glycolytic proteins HK-I, PFK-1, GAPDH and PK1/2, and the transporters GLUT-1 and GSK-3 is regulated by PI3-K in bovine blastocysts. Moreover, the differential protein expression observed between male and female blastocysts might explain the faster developmental kinetics seen in males, as the expression of main proteins involved in glycolysis and glycogenogenesis was significantly higher in male than female bovine embryos and also could explain the sensitivity of male embryos to a high concentration of glucose, as a positive correlation between GLUT-1 expression and glucose uptake in embryos has been demonstrated.
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