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Molecular cloning and expression of bovine nucleoplasmin 2 (NPM2): a maternal effect gene regulated by miR-181a

Brandon M Lingenfelter15, Swamy K Tripurani1, Jyothsna Tejomurtula1, George W Smith234 and Jianbo Yao1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Animal Biotechnology and Genomics, Division of Animal and Nutritional Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA

2 Laboratory of Mammalian Reproductive Biology and Genomics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA

3 Department of Animal Science, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA

4 Department of Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan 48824, USA

5 West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Lewisburg, WV 24901, USA

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Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology 2011, 9:40  doi:10.1186/1477-7827-9-40

Published: 29 March 2011



Nucleoplasmin 2 (NPM2) is an oocyte-specific nuclear protein essential for nuclear and nucleolar organization and early embryonic development. The aims of this study were to clone the bovine NPM2 gene, determine its temporal expression during oocyte development and early embryogenesis, and evaluate the potential role of miRNA-181a in regulation of its expression.


A 329 bp cDNA fragment was amplified from bovine fetal ovary using primers designed based on the conserved regions of the human and mouse NPM2 cDNA sequences. RACE experiments were performed to obtain the 5' and 3' ends of the bovine NPM2 cDNA. Real time PCR and Western blot analysis were used to examine the expression of bovine NPM2 in oocytes and early embryos. Co-expression of bovine NPM2 and miRNA-181a in Hela cells was performed to determine if expression of bovine NPM2 is regulated by miRNA-181a.


The bovine NPM2 cDNA is 851 bp in length encoding a protein of 200 amino acids. The protein contains the conserved bipartite nuclear localization sequence and shows 53% and 62% identity with mouse and human NPM2, respectively. Expression of bovine NPM2 mRNA is restricted to ovaries. NPM2 mRNA is abundant in GV and MII stage oocytes, decreases in early cleavage stage embryos, and barely detectable in morula and blastocyst stage embryos. Similarly, expression of NPM2 protein is high in oocytes and early embryos but extremely low in blastocysts. The abundance of NPM2 mRNA is significantly lower in oocytes isolated from persistent versus growing dominant follicles (P < 0.05). A miR-181a binding site in the 3'UTR of the NPM2 transcript was identified. Transfection experiments showed that bovine NPM2 protein expression is reduced in Hela cells expressing miR-181a compared to control cells without miR-181a, indicating that translation of NPM2 is repressed by miR-181a.


Our data suggest that expression of bovine NPM2 is temporally regulated during early embryogenesis and miR-181a may play a role in its regulation.