In mammals, both parental genomes are essential for normal ontogeny because epigenetic modifications imposed in the parents' gametes lead to parent-of-origin specific gene expression in their offspring. These phenomena are referred to as genomic imprinting. It has been shown that maternal imprinting is established during oocyte growth, lack of maternal imprinting in zygotes leads to early embryonic death, and in vitro system that allows establishment of maternal imprinting is developed. In this review, I describe the history of the discovery of genomic imprinting, the regulatory mechanisms of mammalian development by maternal imprinting, and the molecular mechanisms of genomic imprinting.
Recent advances in systems for in vitro production (IVP) of porcine embryos, including in vitro oocyte maturation, fertilization and embryo culture, have enabled us to generate viable embryos that can develop to full term after transfer into recipients. This technology is being applied now to developments in gamete/embryo biology and agriculture, as well as in producing cloned and genetically modified pigs. Chemically defined media for IVP of embryos are useful for a precise analysis of the physical action of substances on gametogenesis and early embryogenesis, because they eliminate undefined factors present in biological materials, such as serum or serum albumin. Use of a chemically defined medium also improves the reliability of media formulations, yields a higher reproducibility of results and ensures biosafety of culture media by eliminating protein preparations, which may be contaminated with pathogens. Therefore, it has certain advantages for research and for commercial purposes. We have recently developed a defined IVP system for porcine embryos using a single basic medium based on the composition of porcine oviductal fluid. This paper discusses the developmental ability and normality of porcine IVP embryos, and limitations and advancements in this system.
To establish sustainability in the dairy industry, it is important that cows become pregnant at a biologically optimal time and at an economically profitable interval after calving. In this review, the results obtained from Holstein cattle in an experimental herd for dairy research are summarized. First, the effect of age at first calving of heifers on productive and reproductive performance was examined. A reduction in calving age from 25.1 to 21.5 months with the same growth rate during the first 12 months after birth had no negative effects on the heifers' performance. Second, the postpartum follicular dynamics of lactating cows were traced in relation to their fertility, and the emergence and fate of cystic ovarian follicles were examined. The premature initiation of ovarian activity does not always improve the fertility of cows as indicated by the number of days open. Third, the occurrences of anestrous ovulation during the early postpartum period were analyzed with reference to the frequency of reversion to anestrus. The premature onset of estrous activity also did not improve fertility, and relapse back into anestrus after the onset of the estrous cycle often occurred during the breeding period. Fourth, some indices for the occurrence of postpartum reproductive events were evaluated as an indicator of the reproductive performance of lactating cows. The milk yield and percentage of body weight loss could be indicators for reproductive events. Finally, the potency of a pedometry system for the detection of typical and atypical estrous behaviors of heifers and lactating cows was evaluated in terms of efficiency and accuracy. The location of the pedometers and housing conditions for the animals affected the estrus detection of the system. These results represent the reproductive potential of modern high-yielding dairy cattle and provide a baseline to evaluate their reproduction.
We studied the effects of trichostatin A (TSA), a histone deacetylase inhibitor, on the development of bovine somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) embryos by investigating (1) the optimal concentration and treatment time of TSA for development of bovine SCNT embryos, (2) the status of histone acetylation in TSA-treated and control SCNT embryos and (3) the expression of histone acetylation- and deacetylation-related genes in TSA-treated and control SCNT embryos. We observed that 50 nM TSA-treatment for 20 h following fusion resulted in more efficient in vitro development of bovine SCNT embryos to the blastocyst stage. In regard to histone H4K5 acetylation, half of the control SCNT embryos faintly displayed histone H4K5 signals 30 min after electrofusion, while most of the TSA-treated SCNT embryos displayed histone H4K5 signals within 30 min after electrofusion. Furthermore, the expressions of HDAC1 and HDAC2 in the blastocysts were significantly lower (P<0.05) in the TSA-treated SCNT than in the control SCNT. However, the expression of GCN5 and HAT1 did not differ between the TSA-treated and control SCNT. In conclusion, we demonstrated that TSA-treatment after SCNT in bovine embryos can dramatically improve the practical applications of current cloning techniques.
The objective of this study was to investigate the relationships between uterine perfusion and estrogen, progesterone and the uterine nitric oxide synthase (NOS) system in five trotter mares during the estrous cycle. Color Doppler sonography for measurement of uterine blood flow and collection of blood for determination of plasma estrogen and progesterone concentrations were performed on days 0 (= ovulation), 1, 5, 11 and 15 and daily during estrus (days -1 to -4) of one estrous cycle; endometrial biopsy collection for mRNA expression analysis of NOS and estrogen receptors was performed on days 0, 1, 5, 11, 15 and -3. Blood flow in each uterine artery was assessed by calculating the mean time-averaged maximum velocity (TAMV) and the pulsatility index (PI). Plasma concentrations of estrogen and progesterone were determined using specific enzyme immunoassays. The mRNA expressions of endothelial NOS (eNOS), inducible NOS (iNOS) as well as estrogen receptors α (ERα) and β (ERβ) were quantified using reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis. The TAMV and PI had a biphasic pattern during the estrous cycle (P<0.05), with maximum and minimum, respectively, values on days 5 and -4. Estrogen receptor mRNA concentrations increased significantly during days 15 (ERα) and -3 (ERβ). Transcript expression of eNOS, but not iNOS, had a biphasic pattern during the cycle (P<0.05) with maximum levels on days 5 and -3 and correlated positively with TAMV (r=0.81, P=0.05). We infer that the uterine NOS system, especially eNOS, plays an important role in the regulation of uterine blood flow during the estrous cycle in mares.
Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and maturation/M phase promoting factor (MPF) play crucial roles in oocyte meiotic maturation in mammals. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms have not been addressed. In this study, the effects of the MEK/MAPK pathway inhibitor U0126 and the MPF inhibitor roscovitine on meiotic maturation and maternal gene expression in pig cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) and denuded oocytes (DOs) were investigated. Both inhibitors can reversibly block the resumption of meiosis in pig oocytes. COCs or DOs initially cultured in drug-free medium for 24 h and then transferred to medium containing U0126 showed normal progress to the Metaphase II stage (MII); (90.38 vs. 92.16% control group). In contrast, roscovitine treatment from 24 to 44 h significantly inhibited maturation of COCs and DOs. To explore the underlying molecular mechanisms, expression patterns and polyadenylation states of five representative maternal transcripts, cyclin B1, Cdc2, C-mos, GDF9 and BMP15, were examined by real-time PCR and poly(A)-test PCR (PAT assay). U0126 treatment resulted in aberrant expression of Cdc2 and GDF9, while roscovitine significantly maintained all five maternal transcripts at very high levels in treated COCs compared with the control group. The polyadenylation of these mRNAs increased as well. Furthermore, the experiments were repeated in DOs, and the results also indicated that both Cdc2 and GDF9 showed significantly higher expression in both mRNA and polyadenylation levels in the drug treatment groups. Together, these results provide the first demonstration in a mammalian system that MAPK and MPF play important roles in regulation of maternal gene expression during oocyte maturation.
In this study, the plasma glucose concentrations of cows carrying a somatic cell clone fetus during late pregnancy and placental glucose transporter (GLUT) mRNA levels at parturition were examined. Parturition was induced using dexamethasone, prostaglandin F2α and estriol in cows bearing a clone (Clone) or a fetus fertilized in vivo as a control (DEX). Plasma glucose concentrations were measured in the cows (days 257 and 271 of pregnancy and at parturition) and newborn calves. Cotyledon and caruncle tissues removed just after parturition were used for mRNA extraction. Expression of mRNA was also analyzed in control cows that were induced to undergo parturition without dexamethasone (PG) or that spontaneously delivered (SP). The glucose concentrations of the Clone group were significantly low at all points examined, but those of the calves were normal. The increase in the maternal glucose concentration from day 257 to parturition was significantly lower in the Clone group. Glucose concentrations were negatively correlated with birth weight for clones (day 257; r=-0.584, day 271; r=-0.286, parturition; r=-0.549). There was no difference in mRNA levels in the cotyledons among the animals examined. In the caruncles, the Clone and PG groups showed significantly higher GLUT1 and GLUT3 mRNA levels than the SP group, and the GLUT3 mRNA level was significantly higher in the Clone group than in the DEX group. The glucocorticoid receptor α mRNA level was significantly lower in the SP group than in the DEX group. Although spontaneous parturition and administration of dexamethasone suppressed the placental GLUT mRNA levels, the action was not observed in clone pregnancy. These results raise the possibility of facilitation of glucose transportation through the placenta to meet increased nutritional requirements of overgrown clone fetuses.
The effect of estradiol-17β (E2) on the number and distribution of neurons in the caudal mesenteric ganglion (CaMG) supplying the ovary of adult pigs was investigated. Also, the numbers of ovarian dopamine-β-hydroxylase (DβH-), neuropeptide Y (NPY-), somatostatin (SOM-), galanin (GAL-) and estrogen receptor (ER)-immunoreactive perikarya as well as the density of the intraganglionic nerve fibers containing DβH and/or NPY, SOM, GAL were determined. E2 was administered i.m. from day 4 of the first studied estrous cycle to the expected day 20 of the second studied cycle. Injections of E2 (1) increased the E2 level in the peripheral blood approximately 4-5 fold, (2) decreased the number of small-sized Fast Blue-positive postganglionic neurons in the CaMG, (3) decreased the number of small perikarya in the ventral, dorsal and central regions of the CaMG, (4) decreased the number of large perikarya in the dorsal and central regions, (5) decreased the number of small and large perikarya in the CaMG that were DβH+/NPY+, (6) decreased the number of small DβH+ but NPY- perikarya, (7) decreased the number of small perikarya coded DβH+/SOM+ and DβH+/SOM-, (8) decreased the number of small DβH+/GAL- perikarya, (9) decreased the number of small and large perikarya expressing ER subtypes α and β and (10) decreased the total number of nerve fibers in the CaMG containing DβH and/or NPY and DβH and/or GAL. These results show that long-term E2 treatment of adult gilts downregulates the populations of both noradrenergic and ERs expressing ovarian neurons in the CaMG. Our findings suggest also that elevated E2 levels that occur during pathological states may regulate gonadal function(s) by affecting ovary supplying neurons.
The objective of the present study was to compare two commercially available blood-based pregnancy tests, namely BioPRYN, an ELISA for pregnancy-specific protein B (PSPB), and an ELISA for pregnancy-associated glycoprotein (PAG), for early pregnancy diagnosis in dairy cattle using transrectal ultrasonography as a gold standard. Transrectal ultrasonography was conducted 26-58 days after artificial insemination (AI) in 197 cattle from 19 farms. Concurrently, a blood sample was collected for determination of serum PSPB and PAG. Transrectal palpation was performed approximately 120 days after AI to verify that pregnancy was maintained. For PSPB and PAG, there were no significant differences (P>0.05) in sensitivity (98.0 and 97.8%), specificity (97.1 and 91.2%), positive predictive values (99.3 and 97.8%), negative predictive values (91.9 and 91.2%) and accuracy (97.8 and 96.4%). In conclusion, the two blood pregnancy assays were equally efficacious and were highly accurate (based on transrectal ultrasonography as the gold standard).
Thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) is a large extracellular matrix-associated protein that is important for normal follicular development, is rapidly modulated during follicular growth and plays important roles in cellular proliferation and angiogenesis. TSP-1 mRNA is post-transcriptionally regulated, although the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. Insulin-like growth factor-1 is a potent signalling molecule that participates in folliculogenesis. We hypothesized that IGF-1 modulates TSP-1 expression in granulosa cells, and that such modulation requires rapid turnover of the TSP-1 mRNA and protein. Spontaneously-immortalized rat granulosa cells (SIGC) were cultured in the presence or absence of IGF-1, after which the expression and turnover of TSP-1 mRNA and protein was evaluated by western blot and quantitative PCR. RNA stability reporter constructs were prepared in which wild-type and mutated AU-rich elements from the TSP-1 3'UTR were cloned downstream of the luciferase gene in a mammalian expression vector. These were transfected into SIGC cells in order to characterize mRNA elements that regulate the stability of the TSP-1 mRNA. TSP-1 expression decreased rapidly at the mRNA and protein levels in IGF-1 treated cultures. Following 12 h of IGF-I treatment, TSP-1 protein decreased by 25% and was 73% lower than in untreated cultures. The half-life of endogenous TSP-1 mRNA in SIGC was 2.0 h. This was not changed in the presence of IGF-1, however, transcription of new TSP-1 mRNA was inhibited. Reporter mRNAs with mutated AU-rich elements demonstrated a longer half-life than mRNAs in which the wild type AU-rich elements were present. These studies reveal that IGF-1 rapidly inhibits TSP-1 expression at the protein and mRNA levels in cultured granulosa cells through apparent inhibition of TSP-1 transcription. The decrease depends on an intrinsically short half-life of TSP-1 mRNA and protein. The short mRNA half life is due, at least in part, to AU-rich elements in the 3'UTR of the TSP-1 mRNA.
The role of fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) secretion by vascular endothelial cells during trophoblast invasion was assessed. The human extravillous trophoblast cell line, TEV-1, and umbilical vein endothelial cell line, HUVE-12, were cocultured under normal and hypoxic conditions. FGF2 expression in HUVE-12 cells and matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9) and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase 1 (TIMP1) expression in TEV-1 cells were analyzed using quantitative RT-PCR and Western blot analyses. TEV-1 cell invasion was also examined. FGF2 expression in the HUVE-12 cells cocultured with TEV-1 cells was significantly increased under hypoxic conditions. In the TEV-1 cells cocultured with HUVE-12, hypoxia reduced MMP9 expression and increased TIMP1 expression; it also reduced cell invasion by 43%. However, the expression of MMP9 and TIMP1 and ratio of MMP9/TIMP1 were increased when the TEV-1 cells were cultured alone under hypoxic conditions. These findings suggest that FGF2 release by stressed endothelial cells of uterine spiral arteries play roles in decreasing MMP9 and increasing TIMP1 production in extravillous trophoblasts (EVT) in response to stress, resulting in reduced EVT invasion and possibly shallow implantation of the placenta.
Although procedures for in vitro fertilization with cryopreserved sperm have been published there is a lack of data indicating that the cryoprotectant and cryopreservation procedures used for those procedures were optimal. To redress this, fertilization rate of eggs exposed to sperm in vitro was used as the outcome in the optimization of raffinose concentration in the cryoprotectant (raffinose in water), volume of cryoprotectant, and freezing conditions for C57BL/6J mouse sperm. Sperm were frozen in a cylindrical Dewar with an internal diameter and height of 14.0 cm and 36.0 cm respectively. The optimal concentration of raffinose was 23-24% (510-540 mOsm/kg). The optimal volume of cryoprotectant used to prepare the sperm suspension from a single mouse was 180-400 μl, and sperm proved most fertile when frozen 13-25 mm above liquid nitrogen. Raffinose in the fertilization medium did not inhibit fertilization. Fertilized eggs transferred to oviducts of recipient mice developed into viable offspring.
There has been no culture system that supports the growth of bovine oocytes for more than 2 weeks. In the present study, bovine secondary follicles were cultured for 4 weeks, and the effects of supplemented protein components and FSH in the culture medium on the growth of the oocytes were examined. The effect of vitrification of secondary follicles on the subsequent oocyte growth was also examined. Secondary follicles (150 to 200 μm in diameter) containing growing oocytes (approximately 60 μm in diameter) were dissected from ovaries and cultured in a medium supplemented with FSH (0, 25 or 50 ng/ml) and one of the following four kinds of protein components: bovine serum albumin (BSA), bovine plasma (BPL), fetal calf serum (FCS) and bovine follicular fluid (BFF). In BSA- and BPL-supplemented media with 0 or 25 ng/ml FSH, more than 50% of follicles showed no degenerative signs during culture, and oocytes significantly increased in size after 4 weeks (P<0.05). Higher percentages of granulosa cell-enclosed oocytes were recovered from the follicles cultured in BPL-supplemented media with 0 and 25 ng/ml FSH, and the oocytes grew to 90 μm or more in diameter. In FCS- and BFF-supplemented media, FSH increased the numbers of degenerating follicles. Next, vitrified-warmed secondary follicles were cultured in BPL-supplemented medium. One third of the follicles showed no degenerative signs, and the oocytes increased in diameter to 88.8 ± 3.1 μm after 4 weeks of culture. These results suggest that a BPL-supplemented medium supports oocyte growth in bovine secondary follicles for 4 weeks, even after vitrification and warming of the follicles.
Rbmy gene encodes a germ-cell specific nuclear RNA-binding protein and is involved in spermatogenesis. To further investigate the specific events of spermatogenesis in which Rbmy plays a role, the target mRNAs of human RBMY protein were isolated and identified. Through the isolating specific nucleic acids associated with proteins (SNAAP) technique, we isolated twenty potential target genes of human RBMY protein from the human testis in the present study. Some of these target genes play important roles during spermatogenesis and have alternative transcripts in the testis. In this study, we focused on the human- related (never in mitosis gene a) kinase 10 (Nek10) gene, which belongs to the Nek protein kinase subfamily. Nek10 has two transcripts, and the results of RT-PCR and Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assays (EMSA) show that hRBMY protein can only bind to transcript variant 2 of Nek10 and that hRbmy may take part in alternative splicing of Nek10. Isolation and identification of target genes of hRBMY will be helpful to further investigate the biological function of RBMY in spermatogenesis.
The progranulin (PGRN) gene is involved in sexual differentiation of the brain during the perinatal period and estrogen-induced adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus. Mutations in the PGRN gene are also implicated in human frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Thus, while PGRN appears to play important roles as a growth factor in the brain, the localization of PGRN-expressing cells throughout the brain has not been fully established. In the present study, we examined the localization of PGRN proteins in the brain using adult male wild-type mice and PGRN-deficient mice we had generated previously. We also evaluated age-dependent changes in PGRN expression at the mRNA and protein levels. As expected, no immunoreactivity was observed in the brains of the PGRN-deficient mice. In the wild-type mice, intense immunoreactivity was observed in several brain regions including the cingulate and piriform cortices, the pyramidal cell layer and dentate gyrus of the hippocampus, the amygdala, the ventromedial and arcuate nuclei of the hypothalamus and the Purkinje cell layer in the cerebellum. Moreover, PGRN mRNA and protein expression decreased in the cortex, hippocampus and hypothalamus in an age-dependent manner. Since many of these brain regions are involved in emotion, memory and recognition, PGRN may play roles as a growth factor in these brain functions that decline with age.
We examined the effects of treatment with histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi), trichostatin A (TSA) and scriptaid (SCR), on the blastocyst formation rate in bovine somatic cell nuclear transferred (SCNT) embryos derived from fibroblast cells. Three fibroblast cell lines (L1, L2 and L3) were used as somatic cell donors to produce SCNT embryos (L1, L2 and L3 embryos, respectively). In Experiment 1, we compared the in vitro developmental competence of L1 embryos treated with various concentrations of TSA for different time periods following chemical activation. Embryos treated with 5 nM TSA for 20 h showed a significantly increased blastocyst formation rate compared with untreated controls. In Experiment 2, we examined the effect of TSA (5 nM) treatment of L1, L2 and L3 embryos as well as the effect of treatment of L1, L2 and L3 embryos with various concentrations of SCR on in vitro developmental competence. It was found that 5 nM TSA treatment significantly increased the blastocyst formation rate in L1 and L3 embryos but did not have an influence on the development of L2 embryos. On the other hand, 5 nM SCR treatment significantly increased the blastocyst formation rates of L1 and L2 embryos compared with controls. However, there was no significant increase in the blastocyst formation rate of L3 embryos when they were treated with SCR. In Experiment 3, acetylation of H4K12 was examined in donor cells and pronuclear-stage L1, L2 and L3 embryos treated with 5 nM TSA or 5 nM SCR by immunostaining. The level of H4K12 acetylation was different among donor cells. The staining intensities in the TSA-treated L1 and L3 embryos and SCR-treated L2 embryos were significantly higher than those of untreated embryos. These results suggest that HDACi treatment of bovine SCNT embryos improves the blastocyst formation rate; however, the optimal treatment conditions may differ among donor cell lines.
The effects of two antioxidants, superoxide dismutase (SOD) and the flavonoid 3,4-dihydroxyflavone (DHF), on bovine embryo development in vitro were examined. Blastocyst development, total cell and inner cell mass (ICM) numbers, intracellular levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), apoptotic indices and gene expression levels were examined before and after treatment of day 2 bovine embryos (≥2-4 cells) with various concentrations of 3,4-DHF or SOD for 6 days. Statistical analysis was performed using analysis of variance, with significance defined at the P<0.05 level. SOD had no significant effect on bovine embryo development at any tested concentration (control, 32.8%; 300 U/ml, 33.9%; 600 U/ml, 24.2%). In contrast, 10 μM 3,4-DHF promoted higher blastocyst development (39.3%) than any other concentration (control, 26.7%; 1 μM, 30.3%; 50 μM, 29.5%; 100 μM, 20.5%). Compared with 300 U/ml SOD, 10 μM 3,4-DHF resulted in significantly higher blastocyst development (44.2%) (control, 31.5%; SOD 300 U/ml, 33.6%). Treatment with 3,4-DHF increased the ICM cell number and reduced intracellular ROS production and apoptotic cell numbers. When O2 tension was decreased from 20% (high tension) to 5% (low tension), embryo development rates were doubled regardless of 3,4-DHF treatment. Under high O2 tension, 10 μM 3,4-DHF treatment may render bovine embryo development similar to a low O2 tension environment. The best blastocyst development was obtained under low O2 tension plus 10 μM 3,4-DHF treatment. The relative expression levels of antioxidant (MnSOD), antiapoptotic (Survivin, Bax inhibitor) and growth-related genes (IFN-τ, Glut-5) were significantly increased after 3,4-DHF treatment, while the expression levels of oxidant (Sox) and apoptotic genes (Caspase-3 and Bax) were reduced. These results suggest that 3,4-DHF may promote the in vitro development of bovine embryos through its antioxidant and antiapoptotic effects.
The decrease in fertility and conception rates of high-producing dairy cows is one of the major negative impacts for today's producers. The recovery of ovarian activity postpartum is affected by the status of immunity, metabolism and reproduction and plays a critical role in subsequent fertility after parturition in the cow. In the present study we investigated the relationships between polymorphisms in genes relating to the above functions and the first postpartum ovulation as a marker of the recovery of ovarian function in the cow. In immune function related-factors, the occurrence of first postpartum ovulation within 3 weeks in the C/C genotypes of tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) exon (55.4%) and the A/G genotypes of TNFα promoter (55.4%) was significantly higher than that in T/T genotypes of TNFα exon (14.3%) and A/A genotypes of TNFα promoter (14.3%). Moreover, anovulatory cows with the T/T genotype of TNFα exon and the A/A genotype of TNFα promoter tended to have a prolonged days open compared with those of the other genotypes of TNFα polymorphisms. In metabolic function-related factors, ovulatory and anovulatory cows had a different distribution for alleles of the growth hormone receptor, but there were no significant differences in genotype and allele frequency of insulin-like growth factor-I polymorphism. No significant relationships were found between ovarian function after parturition and polymorphisms for reproduction-related genes. In conclusion, polymorphisms of TNFα gene both in exon and promoter regions have a strong association with the early first ovulation within 3 weeks after parturition in the high-producing dairy cow. Taken together, polymorphisms of TNFα gene could be strongly related to early first ovulation after parturition, thus being an effective tool of selection for improving reproductive performance in the high-producing dairy cow.
Mitochondria are important regulators of both apoptosis and autophagy. One of the triggers for mitochondrial-mediated apoptosis is the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which include hydrogen peroxide, superoxide, hydroxyl radical, nitric oxide and peroxynitrite. Recently, several studies have indicated that ROS may also be involved in the induction of autophagy. In the present study, we used H2O2 to induce mitochondrial stress, examined apoptotic- and autophagic-related gene expression and observed LC3 protein (autophagosome presence marker) expression in porcine parthenotes developing in vitro. In porcine four-cell parthenotes cultured for 5 days in NCSU37 medium containing 0.4% BSA, the developmental rate and mitochondrial distribution did not differ from that of the group supplemented with 100 μM H2O2 but was significantly decreased in the group supplemented with 500 μM H2O2 (P<0.05). Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) indicated that whereas normal shaped mitochondria were observed in blastocysts from the control group, abnormal mitochondria (mitophagy) and autophagic vacuoles were observed in blastocysts from the group that received 500 μM H2O2. Furthermore, addition of H2O2 (100 μM and 500 μM) decreased cell numbers (P<0.05) and increased both apoptosis (P<0.05) and LC3 protein expression in the blastocysts. Real-time RT-PCR showed that H2O2 significantly decreased mRNA expression of anti-apoptotic gene Bcl-xL but increased pro-apoptotic genes, Caspase 3 (Casp3) and Bak, and autophagy-related genes, microtubule-associated protein 1 light chain 3 (Map1lc3b) and lysosomal-associated membrane protein 2 (Lamp2). However, the addition of H2O2 had no effect on mRNA expression levels in nuclear DNA-encoded mitochondrial-related genes, cytochrome oxidase (Cox) 5a, Cox5b and Cox6b1, in blastocysts. These results suggest that H2O2 leads to mitochondrial dysfunction that results in apoptosis and autophagy, which is possibly related to porcine early embryo development.
In mammalian ovaries, most follicles are lost by atresia before ovulation. It has become apparent that the apoptosis of granulosa cells induces follicular atresia. Forkhead box O3 (FOXO3), also called FKHRL1 (forkhead in rhabdomyosarcoma-like 1), is a proapoptotic molecule that belongs to the FOXO subfamily of forkhead transcription factors. Foxo3-deficient female mice were reported to be infertile because of abnormal ovarian follicular development, but the precise influences of FOXO3 on follicular atresia of mature ovary have not been determined. Therefore, we examined the expression and function of FOXO3 in porcine ovarian follicles and granulosa-derived cells. FOXO3 mRNA levels in granulosa cells of porcine ovaries increased during atresia, while FOXO3 protein was abundant in granulosa cells of early atretic follicles. By immunohistochemistry, the inner surface area of the granulosa layer in early atretic follicles was strongly stained with anti-FOXO3 antibody. The granulosa cells expressing FOXO3 coincided with apoptotic cells, indicating a role of FOXO3 as a proapoptotic factor in granulosa cells of porcine ovaries. In porcine (JC-410) and human (KGN) granulosa-derived cells, cell death was induced by transfection of FOXO3 expression vectors. Expression of the proapoptotic factors Fas ligand (FASLG) and BCL2-like 11 (BCL2L11) was upregulated by FOXO3 in KGN cells. In conclusion, FOXO3 is expressed in porcine ovarian follicles and induces apoptosis in granulosa cells, suggesting that it is a candidate for the initiator of follicular atresia.
The relationship between the peripheral concentrations of estradiol-17β (E2) and the preovulatory characteristics of cumulus oocyte complexes (COCs) during superovulation treatment was investigated in Japanese Black cows. A superovulation regimen with FSH treatment in a descending manner was commenced on day 7 (n=3) or day 10 (n=2) of the estrous cycle (day 0=estrus). Peripheral blood was collected to measure E2 concentrations twice a day throughout the treatment. Ovariectomies were performed at 100 h after the initial FSH treatment in five cows. Every follicle more than 8 mm in diameter was isolated from the ovaries, and cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) were gently aspirated. The COCs were then separated into three groups based on the characteristics of the cumulus (compact, expanded and denuded) and subgrouped based on the stage of the nucleus in the oocytes (GV, GVBD). Plasma E2 concentrations tended to increase gradually and reached the peak level at around 84 h (E2-84: n=3) or 96 h (E2-96: n=2) after the initial FSH treatment. The ratio of COCs with expanded cumulus was significantly higher in E2-84 than in E2-96 (P<0.01). However, there was no difference in the ratio of oocytes showing GVBD between E2-84 and E2-96 (P=0.73), and the characteristics of the cumulus did not affect the stage of the nucleus in the oocytes in either groups (compact, expanded and nude; P=0.61, 0.81 and 1.00). It was possible that the time until the peak plasma E2 concentrations after the FSH treatment could become an indicator for the maturation of follicles and oocytes in preovulatory follicles during superovulation treatment in Japanese Black cows.
Motile porcine sperms adhere to hydrophilic materials such as glass and plastics. The adsorption of sperms to a hydrophobic poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) membrane is less compared with that to glass. We investigated the linear velocity (LV) and amplitude of lateral head displacement (ALHD) of motile porcine sperm on glass and PDMS preparations using computer-assisted sperm analysis (CASA). Significant decreases were observed in the 15-min LV (P<0.05) and ALHD (P<0.05) in motile porcine sperm on glass preparations compared with those on PDMS preparations. These differences were due to adsorption of the head and/or neck to hydrophilic substrates. Because of the elasticity of PDMS, we propose that a PDMS membrane should be used for CASA. To investigate the dynamics of motile porcine sperms with microfluidics, we do not recommend plasma treatment to bond PDMS and glass in the microchannel preparation; instead, we suggest that a PDMS molding process without plasma treatment be used for preparation of microfluidic channels.