Despite exhaustive studies, molecular mechanisms governing blastocyst formation, implantation to the uterine endometrium and placentation have not been definitively characterized. GATA family proteins are a group of zinc finger transcription factors, for which gene ablations eventually result in embryonic death later in pregnancy. These findings suggested that GATA factors are not essential for early embryonic development. However, recent studies from our laboratory and others have revealed that GATA proteins are involved in the regulation of key genes expressed by the trophectoderm that underpin the transition from the morula to trophoblast, and trophectoderm maintenance. Consequently, it is important to consider the current understanding how GATA factors govern early trophectoderm development.
Oxidative stress has been recognized as an important factor in the pathophysiology of preeclampsia. It has been reported that the expression of xanthine oxidase (XO) in the cytotrophoblast and plasma hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) level are significantly higher in preeclamptics than in control women. The aim of this study was to clarify the biological influence of reactive oxygen species (ROS) produced by XO on extravillous trophoblast (EVT) cells. TCL1 cells, a human immortalized EVT cell line, were incubated with xanthine and XO (X/XO). We then measured the cell number, urate level of the culture media and the apoptotic cell ratio. Similar experiments were performed with additional administration of allopurinol, catalase, L-NAME or D-NAME, and with administration of H2O2 in substitution for X/XO. We assessed the effects of H2O2 on invasion ability, tube-like formation and protein expression of HIF1A and ITGAV of TCL1. Finally, the apoptotic cell ratio using primary cultured trophoblasts was measured following exposure to H2O2. X/XO decreased the relative cell number and increased the urate level and apoptotic cell ratio significantly. Elevation of the urate level and apoptotic cell ratio was attenuated by allopurinol and catalase, respectively. L-NAME and D-NAME had no influence on these effects. H2O2 also decreased the relative cell number. Pretreatment with H2O2 significantly inhibited the invasion ability, tube-like formation and HIF1A and ITGAV of TCL1. H2O2 also induced apoptosis in primary cultured trophoblasts. In conclusion, ROS produced by XO induced apoptosis and affected EVT function including invasion and differentiation.
Buffalo are an economically important source for meat and milk production, especially in Brazil. However, important aspects of their biology remain unknown thus far. Herein, we describe the reproductive characteristics of male Murrah buffalo (Bubalus bubalis) raised under extensive management conditions by applying biometrics associated with testicular weight. We analyzed seven males, divided into two groups: G1, which consisted of four 18-month-old animals, and G2, which consisted of three 24-month-old animals. Testicular development occurs slowly in Murrah buffalo, suggesting a delay of sexual maturity. The biometric testicular parameters analyzed were scrotal circumference, testicular weight, testicular length, testicular width, testicular thickness and testicular circumference. Our data indicate strong correlations between SC, age and body weight, and additional significant relationships were identified between body weight, age and other testicular parameters. Thus, these parameters are suitable indicators when selecting bulls for breeding purposes.
Male fertility, the ability of sperm to fertilize and activate the egg and support early embryogenesis, is vital for mammalian reproduction. Despite producing adequate numbers of sperm with normal motility and morphology, some males suffer from low fertility whose molecular mechanisms are not known. The objective was to determine apoptosis in sperm from high and low fertility bulls and its relationship with male fertility. DNA damage, phosphatidylserine (PS) translocation, and expression of pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins (BAX and BCL-2) in the sperm were determined using TUNEL, Annexin V, and immunoblotting approaches, respectively. Amounts of apoptotic spermatozoa were 2.86 (± 1.31) and 3.00 (± 0.96) in high and low fertility bulls, respectively (P=0.548), and were not correlated with fertility. There was a negative correlation between early necrotic spermatozoa and viable spermatozoa (r = –0.99, P<0.0001). Fertility scores were correlated with live spermatozoa detected by eosin-nigrosin test and necrotic spermatozoa determined via flow cytometry (r = –0.49, P<0.006 and r = –0.266, P<0.0113, respectively). BAX level was higher in low fertile group than high fertile group; however, this difference was not statistically significant due to the variations of bull samples (Bull 1–3 vs. Bull 4–5) in low fertile group (P<0.283). BCL-2 was not detectable in any of the sperm samples. The results shed light onto molecular and cellular underpinnings of male fertility.
Telomere is a nucleoprotein structure at the ends of chromosomes that helps to protect the ends of chromosomes from being fused with other chromosomes. Knockout of histone methyltransferases Suv39h1 and Suv39h2 increases the telomere length in murine cells, whereas downregulation of SUV39H1 and SUV39H2 genes decreases the telomere length in human cells, suggesting that telomere biology is different among mammalian species. However, epigenetic regulation of the telomere has not been studied in mammals other than the human and mouse. In the present study, the effect of knockdown of SUV39H1 and SUV39H2 genes on telomere length was examined in porcine embryonic stem-like cells (pESLCs) and porcine embryonic fibroblasts (PEFs). The telomeres in SUV39H1 and SUV39H2 knockdown (SUV39KD) pESLCs (37.1 ± 0.9 kb) were longer (P<0.05) compared with those of the control (33.0 ± 0.7 kb). Similarly, SUV39KD PEFs had longer telomeres (22.1 ± 0.4 kb; P<0.05) compared with the control (17.8 ± 1.1 kb). Telomerase activities were not different between SUV39KD pESLCs (10.4 ± 1.7) and the control (10.1 ± 1.7) or between SUV39KD PEFs (1.0 ± 0.3) and the control (1.0 ± 0.4), suggesting that telomerase activities did not contribute to the telomere elongation in SUV39KD pESLCs and SUV39KD PEFs. Relative levels of trimethylation of histone H3 lysine 9 and expressions of DNMT1, DNMT3A and DNMT3B were decreased in SUV39KD cells, suggesting that telomere lengthening in SUV39KD pESLCs and SUV39KD PEFs might be not only related to the loss of histone modification marks but also linked to the decrease in DNA methyltransferase in pigs.
Lysosomes are acidic and highly dynamic organelles that are essential for macromolecule degradation and many other cellular functions. However, little is known about lysosomal function during early embryogenesis. Here, we found that the number of lysosomes increased after fertilization. Lysosomes were abundant during mouse preimplantation development until the morula stage, but their numbers decreased slightly in blastocysts. Consistently, the protein expression level of mature cathepsins B and D was high from the one-cell to morula stages but low in the blastocyst stage. One-cell embryos injected with siRNAs targeted to both lysosome-associated membrane protein 1 and 2 (LAMP1 and LAMP2) were developmentally arrested at the two-cell stage. Pharmacological inhibition of lysosomes also caused developmental retardation, resulting in accumulation of lipofuscin. Our findings highlight the functional changes in lysosomes in mouse preimplantation embryos.
Neurons in the arcuate nucleus (ARC) that concomitantly express kisspeptin, neurokinin B (NKB) and dynorphin A are termed KNDy neurons and are likely candidates for the intrinsic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) pulse generator. Our hypothesis is that KNDy neurons are functionally and anatomically interconnected to generate discrete neural signals that govern pulsatile GnRH secretion. Our goal was to address this hypothesis using electrophysiological and anatomical experiments in goats. Bilateral electrodes targeting KNDy neurons were implanted into ovariectomized goats, and GnRH pulse generator activity, represented by characteristic increases in multiple-unit activity (MUA volleys), was measured. Spontaneous and pheromone- or senktide (an NKB receptor agonist)-induced MUA volleys were simultaneously recorded from both sides of the ARC. An anterograde tracer, biotinylated dextran amine (BDA), was also injected unilaterally into the ARC of castrated male goats, and the distribution of fibers containing both BDA and NKB was examined using dual-labeling histochemistry. The results showed that MUA volleys, regardless of origin (spontaneous or experimentally induced), occur simultaneously between the right and left sides of the ARC. Tract tracing indicated that axons projecting from NKB neurons in the ARC were directly apposed to other NKB neuronal cells located bilaterally in the ARC. These results demonstrate that GnRH pulse generator activity occurs synchronously between both sides of the ARC in goats and that KNDy neurons are bilaterally interconnected in the ARC via NKB-containing fibers. Taken together, the results suggest that KNDy neurons form a neuronal circuit to synchronize burst activity among KNDy neurons and thereby generate discrete neural signals that govern pulsatile GnRH secretion.
Steroid hormones are produced by the porcine uterus. We hypothesized that the uterus in pigs possesses active 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase/Δ5-Δ4 isomerase (3β-HSD) responsible for progesterone and androstenedione production, that uterine steroids may supplement the amount of steroid hormones produced by embryos and corpus luteum and that these steroids are necessary for maintenance of pregnancy. In this study, we examined 1) endometrial and myometrial expression of 3β-HSD mRNA, 2) uterine 3β-HSD protein activity and 3) in vitro production of A4 and P4 by uterine slices harvested from pigs on days 10 to 11, 12 to 13 and 15 to 16 of pregnancy and the estrous cycle. The expression of 3β-HSD and the presence and activity of 3β-HSD protein were different in the endometrium and the myometrium during the examined periods of pregnancy and the estrous cycle. Production of A4 by the endometrium and myometrium was highest on days 12 to 13 of pregnancy and the estrous cycle. Endometrial secretion of P4 did not differ in the course of early pregnancy and on the respective days of the estrous cycle. The gravid myometrium was the highest source of P4 in pregnant pigs on days 12 to 13. The release of P4 by the cyclic myometrium rose during the examined days of the estrous cycle. The steroidogenic activity of the uterus, as described in this study, may support early pregnancy or the luteal phase of the estrous cycle in pigs.
The aim of the present study was to describe the temperature of the different portions of the female genital tract and their relation to rectal temperature and to investigate the effect of steroid hormones profiles on these variables over the estrous cycle in cattle. Four nonpregnant Japanese Black cows were investigated daily over two successive estrous cycles using a digital thermometer with a long probe and rounded-end sensor to record the temperature of the rectum (RT), vagina (VT), cervix (CT), uterine body (UBT) and uterine horns (UHT). Blood samples were collected immediately before temperature recording to assay peripheral levels of progesterone (P4) and estradiol-17β (E2). Moreover, transrectal ultrasonography was carried out after temperature recording to monitor the ovulatory follicle and track ovulation. During the experiment, the ambient temperature and relative humidity were recorded for further calculation of the temperature humidity index (THI). The temperature within the genital tracts in these cows progressively increased towards the uterine horns from the vagina. The VT, CT, UBT and UHTs were significantly higher in association with peripheral P4 concentrations greater than 4 ng/ml (mid-luteal phase) when compared with lower peripheral P4 concentrations. The VT was more significantly (P<0.01) correlated to the CT, UBT and UHTs than RT. In conclusion, a temperature gradient was present among the vagina, cervix and uterus over the estrous cycle, and changes in peripheral P4 concentrations were associated with the thermal variations within these portions. The VT could be more beneficial than RT in monitoring temperature of deeper portions of the female genital tract in bovine.
Failure of male pronucleus formation has hampered the success of intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) in swamp buffalo. The aim of the present study was to improve male pronucleus formation by pretreating sperm with various chemicals before ICSI. In Experiments1 and 2, sperm were treated according to one of the following protocols: (1) 0.1% Triton-X 100 (TX) for 1 min, (2) 10 μM calcium ionophore (CaI) for 20 min, (3) freezing and thawing (FT) without any cryoprotectant, or (4) no treatment (control). These sperm treatment groups then either did or did not receive additional sperm treatment with 5 mM dithiothreitol (DTT) for 20 min. Acrosomal integrity (Experiment 1) and DNA fragmentation (Experiment 2) were evaluated in the sperm before ICSI. In Experiment 3, oocytes matured in vitro were subjected to ICSI using pretreated sperm as described above and then were cultured either with or without activation. The TX- and CaI-treated sperm caused an increase in the number of acrosome-loss sperm, whereas the FT treatment and control increased the proportion of acrosome-reacted sperm (P<0.05). The DNA fragmentation did not differ among treatments (P>0.05). At 18 h post-ICSI, pronucleus (PN) formation was found only in activated oocytes. The majority of the activated ICSI oocytes contained intact sperm heads. Normal fertilization was observed in the CaI and FT treatment groups and control group when sperm were treated with DTT before ICSI. In conclusion, DTT treatment of sperm with reacted acrosomes before ICSI together with activation of the ICSI oocytes is important for successful male pronucleus formation.
The ectopic expression of transcription factors for reprogramming human somatic cells to a pluripotent state represents a valuable resource for the development of in vitro-based models for human disease and has great potential in regenerative therapies. However, the majority of studies have used skin fibroblasts to generate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) that typically require the enforced expression of several transcription factors, thereby posing a mutagenesis risk by the insertion of viral transgenes. To reduce this risk, iPSCs have been generated with OCT4 and KLF4 from human neural stem cells that endogenously express the remaining reprogramming factors. However, human neural stem cells are rare and difficult to obtain. Here, we show that iPSCs can be generated from human amniotic fluid cells (hAFCs) with two transcription factors: OCT4 and KLF4. Furthermore, iPSCs can be readily derived from hAFCs in a feeder-free conditions, thereby eliminating the potential variability caused by using feeder cells. Our results indicate that hAFCs represent an accessible source of cells that can be reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells with two Yamanaka factors. Therefore, hAFCs may become a preferred cell type in the future for safe reprogramming without any exogenous genetic material.
In this study, a dose-response assessment was performed to understand the relation between supplementation of media with L-ascorbic acid or vitamin C and porcine oocyte maturation and the in vitro development of parthenotes (PA) and handmade cloned (HMC) embryos. Various concentrations (0, 25, 50 and 100 μg/ml) of vitamin C supplemented in in vitro maturation (IVM) and culture (IVC) media were tested. None of these vitamin C additions affected nuclear maturation of oocytes, yet supplementation at 50 μg/ml led to significantly increased intracellular glutathione (GSH) levels and reduced reactive oxygen species (ROS). When cultured in IVM- and/or IVC-supplemented media, the group supplemented with 50 μg/ml of vitamin C showed improved cleavage rates, blastocyst rates and total cell numbers per blastocyst (P<0.05) compared with other groups (control, 25 μg/ml and 100 μg/ml). In contrast, supplementation with 50 μg/ml vitamin C decreased (P<0.05) the apoptosis index as compared with the groups supplemented with 100 μg/ml. In addition, even with a lower blastocyst rate to start with (37.6 vs. 50.3%, P<0.05), supplementation of HMC embryos with vitamin C ameliorated their blastocyst quality to the extent of PA embryos as indicated by their total cell numbers (61.2 vs. 59.1). Taken together, an optimized concentration of vitamin C supplementation in the medium not only improves blastocyst rates and total cell numbers but also reduces apoptotic indices, whereas overdosages compromise various aspects of the development of parthenotes and cloned porcine embryos.
Despite enormous efforts, biochemical and molecular mechanisms associated with equine reproduction, particularly processes of pregnancy establishment, have not been well characterized. Previously, PCR-selected suppression subtraction hybridization analysis was executed to identify unique molecules functioning in the equine endometrium during periods of pregnancy establishment, and granzyme B (GZMB) cDNA was found in the pregnant endometrial cDNA library. Because GZMB is produced from natural killer (NK) cells, endometrial expression of GZMB and immune-related transcripts were characterized in this study. The level of GZMB mRNA is higher in the pregnant endometrium than in non-pregnant ones. This expression was also confirmed through Western blot and immunohistochemical analyses. IL-2 mRNA declined as pregnancy progressed, while IL-15, IFNG and TGFB1 transcripts increased on day 19 and/or 25. Analyses of IL-4 and IL-12 mRNAs demonstrated the increase in these transcripts as pregnancy progressed. Increase in CCR5 and CCR4 mRNAs indicated that both Th1 and Th2 cells coexisted in the day 25 pregnant endometrium. Taken together, the endometrial expression of immune-related transcripts suggests that immunological responses are present even before the trophectoderm actually attaches to the uterine epithelial cells.
Effective preselection of sex has been accomplished in several species of livestock and also in humans using the flow cytometric sperm sorting method. A guaranteed high sorting accuracy is a key prerequisite for the widespread use of sperm sexing. The standard validation method is flow cytometric remeasurement of the DNA content of the sexed sperm. Since this method relies on the same instrument that produced the original sperm separation, it is not truly independent. Therefore, to be able to specifically produce either male or female offspring in the dog, we developed a method of direct visualization of sex chromosomes in a single sperm using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) as a validation method. Denaturation of canine spermatozoa by immersion in 1 M NaOH for 4 min yielded consistent hybridization results with over 97% hybridization efficiency and a good preservation of sperm morphology. There was no significant difference between the theoretical ratio (50:50) and the observed ratio of X- and Y-chromosome-bearing spermatozoa in any of the three dogs. In addition, the mean purities of flow-sorted sex chromosomes in spermatozoa of the three dogs were 90.8% for the X chromosome fraction and 89.6% for the Y chromosome fraction. This sorting was evaluated by using the dual color FISH protocol. Therefore, our results demonstrated that the FISH protocol worked reliably for both unsorted and sexed sperm samples.
This study examined the use of PGF2α and estradiol benzoate (EB) either with or without GnRH to synchronize estrus in dairy cows for timed artificial insemination (TAI) under field conditions. First, Holstein dairy cows with a corpus luteum (CL) received 500 μg cloprostenol and were then randomly allocated to three groups: no further treatment (control, n=236); treatment with 1 mg EB 56 h after cloprostenol (EB group, n=339); or treatment with 1 mg EB 56 h after cloprostenol followed by treatment with 100 μg gonadorelin 24 h later (EB + GnRH group, n=216). All cows received TAI 80 h after the cloprostenol injection. In a second experiment, Holstein dairy cows with a CL received 500 μg cloprostenol and were then randomly allocated to two groups: treatment with 2 mg EB 36 h later (EB group, n=284) or treatment with 2 mg EB 36 h after cloprostenol followed by 100 μg gonadorelin 24 h later (EB + GnRH group, n=229). All cows received TAI 24 h after the EB injection. Logistic analyses revealed that the odds ratio for the probability of pregnancy when 1 mg EB was administered 56 h following cloprostenol was 1.9 and 2.0 times (P<0.001) higher in the EB (39.5%) and EB + GnRH groups (40.7%), respectively, compared with the control group (25.8%). However, pregnancy rates in cows receiving 2 mg EB 24 h following cloprostenol showed no difference compared with cows treated with EB only (32.4%) or with EB + GnRH (35.8%). These results indicate that a synchronization protocol comprising PGF2α and EB could be used for TAI in dairy herds under field conditions.