Nuclear autoantigenic sperm protein (NASP) is associated with DNA replication, cell proliferation, and cell cycle progression through its specific binding to histones. The aim of this study was to examine the roles of NASP in bovine preimplantation embryonic development. Using NASP gene knockdown (KD), we confirmed the reduction of NASP messenger RNA (mRNA) expression during preimplantation development. NASP KD did not affect cleavage but significantly decreased development of embryos into the blastocyst stage. Furthermore, blastocyst hatching was significantly decreased in NASP KD embryos. Cell numbers in the inner cell mass of NASP KD blastocysts were also decreased compared to those of controls. These results suggest that NASP mRNA expression is required for preimplantation development into the blastocyst stage in cattle.
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