Many factors affect development of mammalian preimplantation embryos in vitro. It is well known that in vitro development of bovine embryos is highly affected by culture condition including energy source, growth factors, pH or gas environment. Many efforts have been made towards the suitable environments which can successfully support embryo development in vitro. For a rapid growth and differentiation, embryo requires energy by utilizing ATP, NADPH with oxygen molecules. These energy substrates are produced from the electron transport chain in the mitochondria. In addition to energy production, reactive oxygen species (ROS) are also generated as by-product of such energy production system. ROS production is sensitively controlled by the balance of oxidizing and reducing status and affected by several antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), Catalase, glutathione peroxidase (GPx) or low molecular weight thiols such as glutathione (GSH). Imbalance of oxidation and reduction causes production of excess ROS, which causes the developmental arrest, physical DNA damage, apoptosis induction or lipid peroxidation. Environmental oxygen condition during embryo culture also highly affects embryo development as well as intracellular redox balance. Several studies have revealed that regulation of intra- and extra- cellular reducing environment by reducing excess ROS by using antioxidants, reducing oxygen concentration are effective for improving embryo development. Also, recent studies have demonstrated the difference in gene expression affected by oxidative stress. This review briefly summarizes the effects of ROS and the role of redox balance on preimplantation embryos for improving the efficiency of in vitro production of mammalian embryos.
During recent decades, milk production per cow has increased drastically due to improved management, nutrition, and genetic selection; however, the reproductive performance of high-producing dairy cows has been declining. One of the factors responsible for this low reproductive performance is negative energy balance (NEB). NEB affects the onset of first ovulation in early postpartum cows. It is generally accepted that early first ovulation positively relates to the resumption of normal ovarian function, first service, and conception rate in dairy cows. Hence, delayed first ovulation has a negative impact on subsequent fertility. The metabolic condition of cows in NEB shifts to catabolic metabolism, which in turn causes increased plasma growth hormone and non-esterified fatty acid concentrations and decreased plasma insulin-like growth factor-1, insulin, and glucose concentrations. On the other hand, plasma β-carotene concentrations decrease throughout the dry period and reach their nadir in about the first week postpartum, and this change reflects energy balance during the peripartum period. β-Carotene plays a role independently of vitamin A in the reproductive performance of dairy cows, and the positive relationship between supplemental β-carotene and reproductive function has been demonstrated in many studies during the past decades. However, β-carotene content in corn silage, which is a popular main feed in high-producing dairy cows, is very low. This review describes nutritional factors related to ovulation during the first follicular wave postpartum in dairy cows.
Recent improvements in cryopreservation of mammalian eggs enable the long-term preservation of female germ cells in several mammalian species. Nevertheless, cryopreservation of porcine oocytes is still considered as a challenge. Although the use of vitrification techniques result in reasonable survival rates, developmental competence of vitrified oocytes has been compromised. Alterations of zona characteristics, cytoskeleton, mitochondrial functions and antioxidant-defense ability caused by vitrification are among the most frequently observed malformations which may be responsible for the low developmental competence of cryopreserved porcine oocytes. Furthermore, in vitro maturation, fertilization and embryo culture technologies, which are indispensable for generating embryos from cryopreserved oocytes, generate high rates of abnormal fertilization (polyspermy) and additional stress in resultant embryos further compromising their developmental competence. As a result, embryo development of porcine cryopreserved oocytes is still at low level and to date no piglet has been produced from such oocytes. The aim of the present review is to summarize knowledge on viability and developmental competence of vitrified porcine oocytes and to give ideas for future perspectives for the improvement of porcine oocyte cryopreservation technology.
Studies of mammalian fertilization progressed very slowly in the beginning because of difficulties in obtaining a large quantity of fully mature eggs at one time. With progression of techniques to collect and handle eggs and spermatozoa, research in mammalian fertilization advanced rapidly. Today, far more papers are published on mammalian gametes and fertilization than those of all other animals combined. The development of assisted fertilization and related technologies revolutionized basic research as well as human reproductive medicine and animal husbandry. Reproduction is fundamental to human and animal lives. The author lists a few subjects of his personal interest for further development of basic and applied research of gametes and fertilization. Each reader will probably have more exciting subjects of future investigation.
Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are present in the genome of all vertebrates and are remnants of ancient exogenous retroviral infections of the host germline transmitted vertically from generation to generation. Sheep betaretroviruses offer a unique model system to study the complex interaction between retroviruses and their host. The sheep genome contains 27 endogenous betaretroviruses (enJSRVs) related to the exogenous and pathogenic Jaagsiekte sheep retrovirus (JSRV), the causative agent of a transmissible lung cancer in sheep. The enJSRVs can protect their host against JSRV infection by blocking early and late steps of the JSRV replication cycle. In the female reproductive tract, enJSRVs are specifically expressed in the uterine luminal and glandular epithelia as well as in the conceptus (embryo and associated extraembryonic membranes) trophectoderm and in utero loss-of-function experiments found the enJSRVs envelope (env) to be essential for conceptus elongation and trophectoderm growth and development. Collectively, available evidence in sheep and other mammals indicate that ERVs coevolved with their hosts for millions of years and were positively selected for biological roles in genome plasticity and evolution, protection of the host against infection of related pathogenic and exogenous retroviruses, and placental development.
One-carbon metabolism (OCM) can be seen as integrated metabolic pathways centered on the metabolism of two nutritional substances, folate and methionine. Mammalian oocytes and preimplantation embryos express almost all enzymes that participate in OCM, suggesting that they can independently metabolize OCM nutrients. A deficiency or excess of OCM nutrients and their metabolites during in vitro culture affects preimplantation development of mammalian embryos. Recent in vivo studies have demonstrated that specific OCM dietary interventions during the periconceptional (mainly oocyte growth and preimplantation) period can cause epigenetic alterations in DNA of offspring and program the long-term consequences in their health in adulthood. The epigenetic processes are likely to be implicated in the effects of OCM nutrients; however, understanding their effects at the level of specific genes and their implications in assisted reproductive technology will require further investigations
The mammalian ovary is an extremely dynamic organ in which a large majority of follicles are effectively eliminated throughout their reproductive life. Due to the numerous efforts of researchers, mechanisms regulating follicular growth and atresia in mammalian ovaries have been clarified, not only their systemic regulation by hormones (gonadotropins) but also their intraovarian regulation by gonadal steroids, growth factors, cytokines and intracellular proteins. Granulosa cells in particular have been demonstrated to play a major role in deciding the fate of follicles, serving molecules that are essential for follicular growth and maintenance as well as killing themselves by an apoptotic process that results in follicular atresia. In this review, we discuss the factors that govern follicular growth and atresia, with a special focus on their regulation by granulosa cells. First, ovarian folliculogenesis in adult life is outlined. Then, we explain about the regulation of follicular growth and atresia by granulosa cells, in which hormones, growth factors and cytokines, death ligand-receptor system and B cell lymphoma/leukemia 2 (BCL2) family members (mitochondria-mediated apoptosis) are further discussed.
Prenatal mortality is a prime concern for commercial swine industry in North America. Fetal losses occur throughout gestation but cluster in early (~day20) and mid (~day50) pregnancy. Adequate vascularization of the attachment site has emerged as a key factor contributing to fetal success. Since Insulin-Like Growth Factor (IGF) family members regulate angiogenesis in addition to promoting fetal development and growth, we hypothesized that conceptus success is governed by members of the IGF family. Using quantitative real time PCR, we analyzed expression of IGF family members (IGF-I, IGF-II, IGF-I Receptor (IGF-IR), IGF-IIR and their binding proteins, IGFBPs) in matched maternal and fetal tissues of healthy and arresting conceptuses at gestation days (gd) 20 and 50. IGF-II transcripts were 100 fold increased in both maternal and fetal tissues compared to IGF-I, but receptor transcripts were found in similar abundance irrespective of health status and gestation point. IGFBP3 was the most abundantly transcribed of the binding proteins. Using immunohistochemistry we confirmed the expression of IGF family members in maternal luminal and glandular epithelial cells, the endothelium of blood vessels and some scattered stromal cells. Our results suggest that IGF-I and II and their receptors are differentially expressed at the maternal and fetal components of the attachment site.
To clarify the effect of lactation period on ovarian follicular activity and associated hormonal levels in goats, six goats were monitored daily by ultrasonographic examination with blood sampling during early (Days 5 to 25; Day 0 was the day of kidding) and late (Days 40 to 60) lactation. While the presence of a corpus luteum of pregnancy retarded follicular growth in the ipsilateral ovary until Days 11-13 postpartum, the total follicular number (TFN) and area (TFA) increased during late lactation due to the significant increase in the number of medium- and large-sized follicles and decrease in the number of small follicles. Four goats showed a similar pattern of follicular development during the period studied characterized by the emergence of five and six waves during the early and late lactation, respectively. The largest follicle diameter of the first three waves monitored during early lactation was significantly smaller as compared with the diameter of those existing during late lactation. TFN showed a positive correlation with FSH but showed a negative correlation with immunoreactive (ir-) inhibin and estradiol during the postpartum period. TFA was positively correlated with ir-inhibin, estradiol and PRL and negatively correlated with FSH during the monitored periods. The plasma levels of ir-inhibin and progesterone were significantly higher during late lactation compared with the levels recorded during early lactation. Ir-inhibin levels showed a significant positive correlation with LH and estradiol during early and late lactation but showed a negative correlation with FSH during the whole lactation period. LH was positively correlated with estradiol and PRL during early and late lactation, respectively. These results suggest that the lactation period has a detrimental effect on ovarian activity during the early postpartum period in goats.
RNA interference (RNAi) technology using small interfering RNAs (siRNA) has been widely used as a powerful tool to knock down gene expression in various organisms. In pig preimplantation embryos, no attempt to suppress the target gene expression with such technology has been made. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that the RNAi technology is useful for suppression of endogenous target gene expression at an early stage of development in pigs. Alpha-1,3-Galactosyltransferase (α-GalT) is an enzyme that creates the Galα1-3Gal (α-Gal) epitope on the cell surface in some mammalian species, and removal of the epitope is considered to be a prerequisite for pig-to-human xenotransplantation. We decided to suppress the endogenous α-GalT mRNA expression in pig early embryos, since reduction of α-GalT synthesis is easily monitored by cytochemical staining with Bandeiraea simplicifolia isolectin-B4, a lectin that specifically binds to the α-Gal epitope, and by RT-PCR analysis. Cytoplasmic microinjection of double-stranded RNA and pronuclear injection of an siRNA expression vector into the embryos generated in vitro resulted in a significant reduction in expression of the α-GalT gene and α-Gal epitope in blastocysts, at which stage the α-Gal epitope is abundantly expressed. Somatic cell nuclear transfer of embryonic fibroblasts stably transfected with an siRNA expression vector also led to a significant reduction in the level of α-GalT mRNA synthesis together with decreased amounts of the α-Gal epitope at the blastocyst stage. These results indicate that the RNAi technology is useful for efficient suppression of a target gene expression during embryogenesis in pigs and suggest the possibility of production of siRNA-expressing pigs for use in xenotransplantation.
A number of mouse ES cells from inbred strains have been established to date, but efficiency varies across the different strains. The 129 strain mouse is efficient to establish, whereas C57BL/6 and BALB/c strains are not. It is possible that their genetic backgrounds account for the difference in their ability to establish ES cell lines. In this study, we attempted to establish C57BL/6J and BALB/c Cr ES cells by dual inhibition (2i) using two inhibitors (PD0325901 and CHIR99021) of extracellular signal regulated-kinase (ERK) and glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3), which promote ES cell differentiation. The results revealed that the establishment efficiencies of C57BL/6J and BALB/c Cr ES cells were remarkably increased by 2i. These ES cells stably expressed pluripotent markers and generated high-contribution chimeras with germline transmission. Furthermore, we generated germline chimeras from C57BL/6J ES cells through the method of gene modification. These findings indicate that 2i is a powerful tool for establishing C57BL/6J and BALB/c Cr ES cells with the ability to generate germline chimeras.
In cows, interferon-tau (IFNT) regulates maternal recognition around days 15-19 after artificial insemination (AI). The present study hypothesized that if key target genes of IFNT are clearly upregulated in earlier stages of pregnancy, these genes could be use as indices of future pregnancy in cows. Therefore, we determined the expression of these genes in peripheral blood mononuclear leukocytes (PBMCs) and polymorphonuclear granulocytes (PMNs) during the maternal recognition period (MRP). Twenty multiparous Holstein cows were subjected to AI on day 0 and categorized into the following groups: pregnancy (Preg, n = 9), embryonic death (ED, n = 5) and non-pregnancy (NP, n = 6). Progesterone levels in the Preg group were higher than those in the NP group on days 12-21. ISG15 and OAS-1 (IFN-stimulated genes: ISGs) mRNA in PBMCs on day 8 was higher in the Preg group than in the NP group, and these mRNAs in PMNs was higher in the Preg group on day 5 than in the NP and ED groups. Interleukin-10 (IL-10, Th2 cytokine) mRNA expression increased on day 8 in the PBMCs of pregnant cows. Tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα, Th1 cytokine) mRNA expression was stable in all groups. In an in vitro cell culture experiment, IFNT stimulated mRNA expression of ISGs in both PBMCs and PMNs. IFNT stimulated IL-10 mRNA expression in PBMCs, whereas IFNT increased TNFα mRNA levels in PBMCs in vitro. The results suggest that ISGs and IL-10 could be responsive to IFNT before the MRP in peripheral blood immune cells and may be useful target genes for reliable indices of pregnancy before the MRP.
The roles of methionine metabolism in bovine preimplantation embryo development were investigated by using ethionine, an antimetabolite of methionine. In vitro produced bovine embryos that had developed to the 5-cell stage or more at 72 h after the commencement of in vitro fertilization (IVF) were then cultured until day 8 (IVF = day 0) in medium supplemented with 0 (control), 1, 5 and 10 mM ethionine. Compared with the blastocyst development in the control (40.0%), ethionine at 10 mM almost completely blocked blastocyst development (1.1%, P<0.001), and this concentration was used in the following experiments. Methionine added at the same concentration (10 mM, a concentration control of ethionine) did not cause such an intense developmental inhibition. Development to the compacted morula stage on day 6 was not affected by 10 mM ethionine treatment. S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) added to the ethionine treatment partly restored the blastocyst development. Semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis of cell lineage-related transcription factors in day 6 compacted morulae showed that the expressions of NANOG and TEAD4 were increased by ethionine treatment relative to the control (P<0.01). Furthermore, immunofluorescence analysis of 5-methylcytosine revealed that DNA was hypomethylated in the ethionine-treated day 6 morulae compared with the control (P<0.001). These results demonstrate that the disruption of methionine metabolism causes impairment of the morula-to-blastocyst transition during bovine preimplantation development in part via SAM deficiency, indicating the indispensable roles of methionine during this period. The disruption of methionine metabolism may cause hypomethylation of DNA and consequently lead to the altered expression of developmentally important genes, which then results in the impairment of blastocyst development.
This study was carried out to evaluate the blood profile and tissue expression of Anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) as a biomarker for granulosa-theca cell tumors (GTCTs) in cattle. Five cases with unilateral ovarian GTCTs (GTCT group) were investigated in comparison to other groups of Japanese Black cows, which had either cystic ovarian disease (COD group, n=5), a functional corpus luteum on Days 9 to 11 of the estrous cycle (Day 0=estrus; CL group, n=13) or received superovulation treatment (SOT group, n=13). We used transrectal ultrasonography and measured plasma AMH, estradiol-17β (E2), progesterone (P4) and testosterone (T) levels. Moreover, GTCT tissues were collected and examined by immunohistochemical staining (IHC) for AMH. In the GTCT group, ultrasound images of GTCTs were variable and not definitive. However, the AMH level in the GTCT group (n=3, 58.1 ± 66.3 ng/ml) was significantly higher than in the COD, CL and SOT groups (0.1 ± 0.1 ng/ml for GTCT vs. COD, P<0.05; 0.2 ± 0.1 and 0.3 ± 0.2 ng/ml, respectively for GTCT vs. CL and SOT, P<0.01). The other hormonal levels in the GTCT group had no significant differences compared with the COD or SOT group. Neoplastic granulosa cells labeled with AMH antibody clearly demonstrated a variety of tissue patterns in all cases by IHC. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the blood profile and IHC of AMH in bovine GTCTs. Our findings indicate that AMH may be a novel biomarker to diagnose GTCTs in cattle.
The objective of the present study was to define the secretion of prolactin (PRL) in pregnant African and Asian elephants. Levels of immunoreactive (ir-) PRL in serum and placental homogenates were measured by a heterologous radioimmunoassay (RIA) based on an ovine and human RIA system, and the localization of ir-PRL in the placenta was detected by immunohistochemistry using anti-human PRL. Circulating ir-PRL clearly showed a biphasic pattern during pregnancy in African and Asian elephants. Serum levels of ir-PRL started to increase from the 4 - 6th month of gestation and reached the first peak level around the 11-14th month. A second peak of circulating ir-PRL levels was observed around the 18-20th month of gestation followed by an abrupt decline after parturition. In contrast, in a case of abortion of an African elephant, the second peak of ir-PRL was not observed, and the levels remained low for about four months until parturition. The weight of the fetus delivered at the 17th month of gestation was 23.5 kg, which was quite small compared with normal fetuses in previous reports. Ir-PRL was detected in placental homogenates, and immunolocalization was observed in trophoblasts in both the African and Asian elephants, indicating that the placenta is the source of ir-PRL during pregnancy in elephants. The present results clearly demonstrated that circulating ir-PRL shows a biphasic pattern during normal pregnancy and that the placenta appears to be an important source of circulating ir-PRL during pregnancy in both African and Asian elephants.
In mitochondrion-dependent type II apoptosis, BH3-interacting domain death agonist (BID) and BCL-2-associated X protein (BAX) promote death ligand and receptor-mediated cell death. In porcine ovaries, the levels of BID and BAX increase in follicular granulosa cells during atresia. In the present study, to confirm the pro-apoptotic activity of BID and BAX in granulosa cells, we examined the effect of RNA interference of BID or BAX on apoptosis using a human ovarian granulosa tumor cell line, KGN. By reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and Western blotting, expression of BID and BAX was detected in KGN cells. Then, we suppressed BID and BAX mRNA expression in KGN cells using small interfering RNA (siRNA). When BID or BAX was suppressed, a significant decrease in the apoptotic cell rate was noted. In granulosa-derived cells, BID and BAX showed pro-apoptotic activity. These results suggest that BID and BAX act as signal-transducing factors in mitochondrion-dependent type II apoptosis.
Although the importance of carbohydrate recognition by sperm during egg zona pellucida binding has been widely reported, the sperm molecular species that recognize the carbohydrates are poorly characterized. Our previous cytochemical study indicated that two kinds of carbohydrate-binding proteins are expressed on porcine sperm heads-one recognizes N-acetyllactosamine (Galβ1-4GlcNAc-), and the other recognizes the Lewis X structure (Galβ1-4(Fucα1-3)GlcNAc-). For this report, we used proteomic techniques to characterize the sperm proteins that bind N-acetyllactosamine. Porcine sperm plasma membrane was solubilized with a detergent solution and subjected to sequential chromatography with dextran sulfate agarose, affinity, and hydroxyapatite, and the binding activities in the eluates were monitored by a solid-phase binding assay. The tryptic peptides of two proteins most likely associated with the binding activities were subjected to tandem mass spectrometry sequencing. A subsequent database search identified one of the two proteins as predicted disintegrin and metalloprotease domain-containing protein 20-like (XP_003128672). The other protein was identified as disintegrin and metalloprotease domain-containing protein 5 (AB613817) by database searches for homologous amino acid sequences, cDNA cloning, nucleotide sequencing and nucleotide database searches. Furthermore, two-dimensional blue native/SDS-PAGE demonstrated that they formed a variety of non-covalent complexes. Therefore, these ADAM complexes probably are responsible for the N-acetyllactosamine-binding activity. An affinity-purified fraction containing these ADAM complexes showed zona pellucida-binding activity, though the activity was relatively weak, and the presence of another zona pellucida-binding protein that probably works in concert with these ADAM complexes was suggested. Immunofluorescence testing suggested that ADAM20-like was localized on the anterior part of the sperm plasma membrane.
The seasonal spermatogenesis and localization of inhibin/activin subunits (alpha, betaA, betaB) in the testes of wild ground squirrel has been previously described; however, the expression pattern of activin receptors and cytoplasmic signaling SMADs has not been detected in any seasonal breeders. The objective of this study was to investigate the abundance and cellular localization of activin signaling components in testes of the wild ground squirrel during the breeding and nonbreeding seasons. The immunolocalizations of ActRIIB (activin type II receptor B) and activin-related SMADs (phospho-SMAD2/3, SMAD4 and SMAD7) were observed by immunohistochemistry. Total proteins were extracted from testicular tissues in the breeding and nonbreeding seasons and were used for Western blotting analysis for ActRIIB and SMADs. Immunoreactivities of activin signaling components were greater in the testes of the breeding season, and then decreased to a relatively low level in the nonbreeding season. ActRIIB and related SMADs were widely spread in the active testes, while spermatogonia were the predominant cellular sites of activin signal transduction during arrested spermatogenesis. The dynamic regulation of activin type II receptor and SMADs indicated that the activin signal pathway played an important paracrine role in seasonal spermatogenesis of the wild ground squirrel. Furthermore, the distinct localizations and immunoreactivity of ActRIIB and SMADs might suggest different functions of activin in seasonal spermatogenesis.
To artificially activate embryos in somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), chemical treatment with ionomycin has been used to induce transient levels of Ca2+ and initiate reprogramming of embryos. Ca2+ oscillation occurs naturally several times after fertilization (several times with 15- to 30-min intervals). This indicates how essential additional Ca2+ influx is for successful reprogramming of embryos. Hence, in this report, the experimental design was aimed at improving the developmental efficiency of cloned embryos by repetitive Ca2+ transients rather than the commonly used ionomycin treatment (4 min). To determine optimal Ca2+ inflow conditions, we performed three different repetitive ionomycin (10 μM) treatments in reconstructed embryos: Group 1 (4-min ionomycin treatment, once), Group 2 (30-sec treatment, 4 times, 15-min intervals) and Group 3 (1-min treatment, 4 times, 15-min intervals). Pronuclear formation rates were checked to assess the effects of repetitive ionomycin treatment on reprogramming of cloned embryos. Cleavage rates were investigated on day 2, and the formation rates of blastocysts (BLs) were examined on day 7 to demonstrate the positive effect of repeated ionomycin treatment. In Group 3, a significant increase in BL formation was observed [47/200 (23.50%), 44/197 (22.33%) and 69/195 (35.38%) in Groups 1, 2 and 3, respectively]. Culturing embryos with different ionomycin treatments caused no significant difference among the groups in terms of the total cell number of BLs (164.3, 158.5 and 145.1, respectively). Additionally, expression of the anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 gene and MnSOD increased significantly in Group 3, whereas the expression of the pro-apoptotic Bax decreased statistically. In conclusion, the present study demonstrated that repeated ionomycin treatment is an improved activation method that can increase the developmental competence of SCNT embryos by decreasing the incidence of apoptosis.
The objective of this study was to examine whether high concentrations of epidermal growth factor (EGF) and/or insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) would have a beneficial effect on bovine embryo development in vitro and to obtain normal calves by using an ovum pick up method and embryo culture in a chemically defined medium. When compared with controls, EGF (100 or 200 ng/ml) or IGF-I (50 or 100 ng/ml) significantly increased the rate of embryos that developed into blastocysts during an 8-day culture after the in vitro fertilization of oocytes obtained from ovaries from a slaughterhouse. IGF-I induced a dose-dependent increase in cell number in both the inner cell mass and the trophectoderm, whereas EGF stimulated proliferation only in the inner cell mass. A combination of EGF (100 ng/ml) and IGF-I (50 ng/ml) produced an additive effect, and embryos developed into blastocysts at a comparatively high rate (27.9%) compared with controls (12.0%). A similar rate of development was achieved using a combination of EGF and IGF-I in the culture of embryos following ovum pick up by ultrasound-guided transvaginal follicular aspiration and in vitro fertilization, and 5 blastocysts that developed after the culture were transferred into uteri; two embryos implanted, and normal calves were born. These results suggest that the combined use of EGF and IGF-I makes bovine embryo culture in a chemically defined medium a practical and useful procedure for producing blastocysts, and its application to embryo culture following ovum pick up and in vitro fertilization could be useful for producing normal calves.
We cloned the LIM-homeodomain protein LHX2 as a transcription factor for the porcine follicle-stimulating hormone β subunit gene (Fshβ) by the Yeast One-Hybrid Cloning System using the upstream region of -852/-746 bases (b) from the transcription start site, called Fd2, as a bait sequence. The reporter assay in LβT2 and CHO cells revealed the presence of an LHX2-responsive region other than Fd2. A potential LHX2 binding sequence was confirmed as AATTAAT containing a consensus homeodomain binding core sequence AATT by Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment analysis. DNase I footprinting demonstrated three AATTAAT sequences located at regions -835/-829, -818/-812 and -806/-800 b in the Fd2 region and 12 binding sites in the distal and proximal regions mostly containing an AATT-core sequence. RT-PCR analysis of Lhx2 expression during porcine fetal and postnatal pituitary development showed a gradual increase from fetal day (f) 40 to postnatal day (p) 8 followed by a slight decrease to p230, suggesting that LHX2 may play its role largely in the late fetal and postnatal periods. The analyses of Lhx2 expression in pituitary tumor-derived cell lines showed their expressions in cell lines including αT31, LβT2 and others. Since LHX2 was previously identified as a transcription factor for Cga and the in vitro experiments in the present study suggested that LHX2 regulated the expression of Fshβ, it is possible that LHX2 controls the synthesis of FSH at the transcription level.
The rapid increase in the number of genetically modified mouse strains has produced a high demand for their frozen spermatozoa from laboratories and mouse banking facilities. Historically, plastic straws have been used preferentially as containers for frozen mammalian spermatozoa because spermatozoa frozen in plastic straws have a high survival rate after thawing. However, plastic straws are more fragile and are used less often than the cryotubes used for conventional cell freezing. In this study, we sought to develop a new protocol for sperm freezing using cryotubes as the container to increase the accessibility of mouse sperm cryopreservation. Epididymal spermatozoa were collected from mature ICR or C57BL/6J (B6) males and were suspended in 18% raffinose and 3% skim milk solution. We then optimized the following conditions using the sperm survival rate as an index: 1) distance of cryotubes from the surface of the liquid nitrogen at freezing, 2) volume of the sperm suspension in the cryotube and 3) temperature of warming sperm during thawing. The best result was obtained when cryotubes containing 10 μl of sperm suspension were immersed 1 cm below the surface of the liquid nitrogen and then thawed at 50 C. The fertilization rates using spermatozoa frozen and thawed using this method were 63.1% in ICR mice and 28.2% in B6 mice. The latter rate was increased to 62.3% by adding reduced glutathione to the fertilization medium. After embryo transfer, 68% and 62% of the fertilized oocytes developed into normal offspring in the ICR and B6 strains, respectively. These results show that cryotubes can be used for cryopreservation of mouse spermatozoa under optimized conditions. This protocol is easy and reproducible, and it may be used in laboratories that do not specialize in sperm cryopreservation.
During the final stage of oocyte growth, the morphology of the oocyte nucleoli changes into a compact structure. The objective of this study was to determine the involvement of the proteasome, which is a large protein complex responsible for degrading intracellular proteins, in the nucleolar compaction. The mean nucleolar diameter of growing porcine oocytes (about 100 μm in diameter) was larger than that of fully grown (120 μm) oocytes (15.5 ± 0.3 vs. 13.2 ± 0.1 μm, P<0.05). When fully grown oocytes were treated with proteasome inhibitors, MG132 (10 and 20 μM) and lactacystin (100 and 200 μM), the nucleolar diameter significantly increased from 12.9 μm to 14.9-16.1 μm. In contrast, transcription inhibitors, actinomycin D (0.8-8 μM) and α-amanitin (10-100 μM) reduced the nucleolar diameter of growing oocytes to 9.4-12.4 μm. MG132 partially prevented this reduction in nucleolar diameter. These results suggest that the proteasome regulates the nucleolar size in porcine oocytes perhaps through the degradation of nucleolar proteins.