Reproductive engineering techniques are essential for assisted reproduction of animals and generation of genetically modified animals. They may also provide invaluable research models for understanding the mechanisms involved in the developmental and reproductive processes. At the RIKEN BioResource Center (BRC), I have sought to develop new reproductive engineering techniques, especially those related to cryopreservation, microinsemination (sperm injection), nuclear transfer, and generation of new stem cell lines and animals, hoping that they will support the present and future projects at BRC. I also want to combine our techniques with genetic and biochemical analyses to solve important biological questions. We expect that this strategy makes our research more unique and refined by providing deeper insights into the mechanisms that govern the reproductive and developmental systems in mammals. To make this strategy more effective, it is critical to work with experts in different scientific fields. I have enjoyed collaborations with about 100 world-recognized laboratories, and all our collaborations have been successful and fruitful. This review summarizes development of reproductive engineering techniques at BRC during these 15 years.
Chlorpromazine (CPZ) is a member of a widely used class of antipsychotic agents. The metabolic pathways of CPZ toxicity were examined by monitoring oxidative/nitrosative stress markers. The aim of the study was to investigate the hypothesis that agmatine (AGM) prevents oxidative stress in the liver of Wistar rats 48 h after administration of CPZ. All tested compounds were administered intraperitoneally (i.p.) in one single dose. The animals were divided into control (C, 0.9% saline solution), CPZ (CPZ, 38.7 mg/kg b.w.), CPZ+AGM (AGM, 75 mg/kg b.w. immediately after CPZ, 38.7 mg/kg b.w. i.p.), and AGM (AGM, 75 mg/kg b.w.) groups. Rats were sacrificed by decapitation 48 h after treatment. The CPZ and CPZ+AGM treatments significantly increased thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS), the nitrite and nitrate (NO2+NO3) concentration, and superoxide anion (O2•-) production in rat liver homogenates compared with C values. CPZ injection decreased the capacity of the antioxidant defense system: superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity, catalase (CAT) activity, total glutathione (GSH) content, glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity, and glutathione reductase (GR) activity compared with the values of the C group. However, treatment with AGM increased antioxidant capacity in the rat liver; it increased the CAT activity, GSH concentration, GPx activity, and GR activity compared with the values of the CPZ rats. Immunohistochemical staining of ED1 in rats showed an increase in the number of positive cells 48 h after acute CPZ administration compared with the C group. Our results showed that AGM has no protective effects on parameters of oxidative and/or nitrosative stress in the liver but that it absolutely protective effects on the antioxidant defense system and restores the antioxidant capacity in liver tissue after administration of CPZ.
We previously showed that prepubertal chronic caffeine exposure adversely affected the development of the testes in male rats. Here we investigated dose- and time-related effects of caffeine consumption on the testis throughout sexual maturation in prepubertal rats. A total of 80 male SD rats were randomly divided into four groups: controls and rats fed 20, 60, or 120 mg caffeine/kg/day, respectively, via gavage for 10, 20, 30, or 40 days. Preputial separation was monitored daily before the rats were sacrificed. Terminal blood samples were collected for hormone assay, and testes were grossly evaluated and weighed. One testis was processed for histological analysis, and the other was collected to isolate Leydig cells. Caffeine exposure significantly increased the relative weight of the testis in a dose-related manner after 30 days of exposure, whereas the absolute testis weight tended to decrease at the 120 mg dose of caffeine. The mean diameter of the seminiferous tubules and height of the germinal epithelium significantly decreased in the caffeine-fed groups after 40 days of caffeine exposure, which was accompanied by a reduced BrdU incorporation rate in germ cells. In addition, caffeine intake significantly reduced in vivo and ex vivo testosterone production in a dose-related manner. Our results demonstrate that caffeine exposure during sexual maturation alter the testicular microarchitecture and also slow germ cell proliferation even at the 20 mg dose level. Furthermore, caffeine may act directly on Leydig cells and interfere with testosterone production in a dose-related manner, consequently delaying onset of sexual maturation.
RNA interference (RNAi) is a powerful tool for the study of gene function in mammalian systems, including transgenic mice. Here, we report a gene knockdown system based on the human mir-187 precursor. We introduced small interfering RNA (siRNA) sequences against the mouse melanocortin-4 receptor (mMc4r) to alter the targeting of miR-187. The siRNA-expressing cassette was placed under the control of the cytomegalovirus (CMV) early enhancer/chicken β-actin promoter. In vitro, the construct efficiently knocked down the gene expression of a co-transfected mMc4r-expression vector in cultured mammalian cells. Using this construct, we generated a transgenic mouse line which exhibited partial but significant knockdown of mMc4r mRNA in various brain regions. Northern blot analysis detected transgenic expression of mMc4r siRNA in these regions. Furthermore, the transgenic mice fed a normal diet ate 9% more and were 30% heavier than wild-type sibs. They also developed hyperinsulinemia and fatty liver as do mMc4r knockout mice. We determined that this siRNA expression construct based on mir-187 is a practical and useful tool for gene functional studies in vitro as well as in vivo.
To understand sleep mechanisms and develop treatments for sleep disorders, investigations using animal models are essential. The sleep architecture of rodents differs from that of diurnal mammals including humans and non-human primates. Sleep studies have been conducted in non-human primates; however, these sleep assessments were performed on animals placed in a restraint chair connected via the umbilical area to the recording apparatus. To avoid restraints, cables, and other stressful apparatuses and manipulations, telemetry systems have been developed. In the present study, sleep recordings in unrestrained cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) and common marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus) were conducted to characterize normal sleep. For the analysis of sleep–wake rhythms in cynomolgus monkeys, telemetry electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), and electrooculography (EOG) signals were used. For the analysis of sleep–wake rhythms in marmosets, telemetry EEG and EOG signals were used. Both monkey species showed monophasic sleep patterns during the dark phase. Although non-rapid eye movement (NREM) deep sleep showed higher levels at the beginning of the dark phase in cynomolgus monkeys, NREM deep sleep rarely occurred during the dark phase in marmosets. Our results indicate that the use of telemetry in non-human primate models is useful for sleep studies, and that the different NREM deep sleep activities between cynomolgus monkeys and common marmoset monkeys are useful to examine sleep functions.
Behavioral adaptations during motherhood are aimed at increasing reproductive success. Alterations of hormones during motherhood could trigger brain morphological changes to underlie behavioral alterations. Here we investigated whether motherhood changes a rat’s sensory perception and spatial memory in conjunction with cortical neuronal structural changes. Female rats of different statuses, including virgin, pregnant, lactating, and primiparous rats were studied. Behavioral test showed that the lactating rats were most sensitive to heat, while rats with motherhood and reproduction experience outperformed virgin rats in a water maze task. By intracellular dye injection and computer-assisted 3-dimensional reconstruction, the dendritic arbors and spines of the layer III and V pyramidal neurons of the somatosensory cortex and CA1 hippocampal pyramidal neurons were revealed for closer analysis. The results showed that motherhood and reproductive experience increased dendritic spines but not arbors or the lengths of the layer III and V pyramidal neurons of the somatosensory cortex and CA1 hippocampal pyramidal neurons. In addition, lactating rats had a higher incidence of spines than pregnant or primiparous rats. The increase of dendritic spines was coupled with increased expression of the glutamatergic postsynaptic marker protein (PSD-95), especially in lactating rats. On the basis of the present results, it is concluded that motherhood enhanced rat sensory perception and spatial memory and was accompanied by increases in dendritic spines on output neurons of the somatosensory cortex and CA1 hippocampus. The effect was sustained for at least 6 weeks after the weaning of the pups.