• Bovine;
  • embryo;
  • gene expression;
  • ovine;
  • placenta;
  • trophectoderm

Problem  A type I interferon (IFN), termed IFN-tau (τ), is responsible for the establishment and maintenance of early pregnancy in cattle and sheep. The control of IFNτ gene (IFNT) expression is not completely understood.

Method of study  This article will provide an overview of recent progress made in understanding the dynamic expression pattern of IFNT during pre- and peri-attachment conceptus development.

Results  Several ubiquitous transcriptional regulators (Ets2 and AP1) and at least two trophectoderm factors (Cdx2 and Dlx3) control IFNT transcription during early pregnancy. Co-activators (CBP/p300) are also involved in this process. At least two uterine-derived factors (GM-CSF and FGF2) stimulate IFN-τ production in bovine trophectoderm, and multiple signaling pathways are functionally linked with IFNT expression.

Conclusion  Although understanding the regulation of IFNT expression is far from complete, considerable progress has been made in uncovering how uterine-derived factors and key placental-specific transcriptional regulators control IFNT expression.