Numerous attempts have been recently made in the search for a reliable, fast and noninvasive assay for selection of oocytes suitable for in vitro embryo production. Potential markers have been described in the follicle such as follicular fluid (FF) or cumulus cells (CCs). However, the reported findings are contradictory, which may reflect the complexity of metabolism of the ovarian follicle. In the present experiment, a data set from individual follicles of known diameter was obtained: cumulus-oocyte complex (COC) morphology, fatty acid composition and glucose concentration in FF as well as apoptotic index in CCs. The obtained data was statistically analyzed either separately (univariate analysis) or simultaneously (multivariate analysis) to examine its predictive value in morphology assessment of bovine COCs. Although the univariate analysis yielded a complex relation system of the selected parameters, no clear outcome could be established. In multivariate analysis, the concentration of the four fatty acids (C16:0, C16:1, C18:1cis9, C22:5n3) and Δ9-desaturase (16) as well as elongase activities were selected as covariates. This allowed prediction of the morphology of a COC with an accuracy of 72%, which is the most interesting finding of the experiment. The present study indicates that the multifactorial model comprising of selected parameters related to the follicle appeared more effective in predicting the morphology of a bovine COC, which may improve the effectiveness of in vitro production systems.
The objective of this study was to clarify the effects of prematurational culture (pre-IVM) supplemented with 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX) on nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation of in vitro-grown bovine oocytes. In experiment 1, oocytes (95 μm in diameter) derived from early antral follicles (0.5–1 mm in diameter) were cultured for 12 days for in vitro growth (IVG). IVG oocytes with a normal appearance were subjected to examinations of diameter and chromatin structure in the germinal vesicle (GV) before IVM. In addition, percentages of metaphase II (M II) were examined after IVM. Regardless of pre-IVM, the mean diameters of IVG oocytes were about 115 μm. The proportions of GV3 (50.0%) and M II stages (80.1%) of IVG oocytes with pre-IVM were higher than those without pre-IVM (28.0 and 49.4%, respectively). In experiment 2, the fertilizability and developmental competence of IVG oocytes were examined. Regardless of pre-IVM, the normal fertilization rates of IVG oocytes were similar (around 70%) but were lower than that of in vivo-grown oocytes (88.0%). Cleavage and blastocyst rates of IVG oocytes with pre-IVM (63.0 and 26.1%, respectively) were higher than those without pre-IVM (45.8 and 12.7%, respectively). The blastocyst rate based on cleaved IVG oocytes with pre-IVM (41.7%) was similar to that of in vivo-grown oocytes (48.7%), although the cleavage rate of IVG oocytes with pre-IVM was lower than that of in vivo-grown oocytes. In conclusion, pre-IVM with IBMX improved the maturational and developmental competences of IVG oocytes, probably due to promotion of their chromatin transition and synchronization of meiotic progression.
FOXL2 is an essential transcription factor that is required for proper development of the ovary and eyelid. Mutations in FOXL2 cause an autosomal dominant genetic disorder, blepharophimosis-ptosis-epicanthus inversus syndrome (BPES). BPES type I patients have eyelid malformation and premature ovarian failure leading to infertility, whereas women with type II BPES are fertile or subfertile. In the present study, we evaluated and compared apoptotic and antiproliferative activities of wild-type (WT) and mutant FOXL2 proteins found in BPES type I and II in human granulosa cell tumor-derived KGN cells. Ectopic expression of WT FOXL2 induced apoptosis and inhibited cell cycle progression in human granulosa cells. In contrast, mutated FOXL2s found in BPES type I significantly reduced these activities, whereas mutated FOXL2s in BPES type II showed intermediate activities. Furthermore, mutant FOX L2 proteins were defective in activating transcription of target genes including Caspase 8, TNF-R1, FAS, p21, and BMP4, which regulate apoptosis, proliferation, and differentiation of granulosa cells. Thus, decreased apoptotic and antiproliferative activities caused by mutant forms of FOXL2 found in BPES patients may at least partially contribute to the pathophysiology of ovarian dysfunction.
Bovine somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is an important and powerful tool for basic research and biomedical and agricultural applications, however, the efficiency of SCNT has remained extremely low. In this study, we investigated the effects of cathepsin B inhibitor (E-64) supplementation of culture medium on in vitro development of bovine SCNT embryos. We initially used three concentrations of E-64 (0.1, 0.5, 1.0 μm), among which 0.5 μm resulted in the highest rate of blastocysts production after in vitro fertilization (IVF), and was therefore used for further experiments. Blastocyst development of SCNT embryos in the E-64 treatment group also increased relative to the control. Moreover, the cryosurvival rates of IVF and SCNT blastocysts were increased in E-64 treatment groups when compared with the control. On the other hand, we found that IVF and SCNT blastocysts derived from E-64-treated groups had increased total cell numbers and decreased apoptotic nuclei. Furthermore, assessment of the expression of apoptosis-related genes (Bax and Bcl-xL) in bovine IVF and SCNT blastocysts treated with E-64 by real-time RT-PCR analysis revealed suppressed expression of the pro-apoptotic gene Bax and stimulated expression of the anti-apoptotic gene Bcl-xL. Taken together, these finding indicate that addition of E-64 to embryo culture medium may have important implications for improving developmental competence and preimplantation quality in bovine IVF and SCNT embryos.
The Brilliant Cresyl Blue (BCB) test relies on G6PDH activity and a simple protocol for the selection of higher quality oocytes. Although the BCB+ oocytes of all the species that have been investigated are characterized by superior quality when compared to BCB- counterparts, application of the test for embryo production still remains an open issue. The aim of our study was to compare BCB+ and the control oocytes (not subjected to the BCB test) in terms of selected aspects of cytoplasmic maturation (mtDNA copy number, mitochondria distribution, relative transcript abundance of six marker genes). The results of our study revealed more relevant differences within the BCB+ and the control oocytes (before and after IVM) than between the two categories of oocytes. There was no difference in the transcript abundance of the BCB+ and the control oocytes in 5 out of 6 analyzed genes (BMP15, GDF9, ATP5A1, EEF1A, ZAR1) and in mtDNA content (pre-IVM 179609 vs. 176595 and post-IVM 187243 vs. 246984, respectively). With regard to mitochondria distribution in pre- and post-IVM oocytes, there was nonsignificant tendency for a more frequent occurrence of the expected patterns in the BCB+ group. The results of the present study do not support the application of BCB staining in a routine IVM protocol due to relatively high similarity in selected parameters characterizing cytoplasmic maturation of BCB+ and control oocytes. This high similarity may results from the limited amount of less competent BCB- oocytes (10%) still present among nonselected oocytes of proper morphology.
Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) migrate to the niche upon introduction into the seminiferous tubules of the testis of infertile animals. However, only 5–10% of the transplanted cells colonize recipient testes. In this study, we analyzed the impact of cell cycle on spermatogonial transplantation. We used fluorescent ubiquitination-based cell cycle indicator transgenic mice to examine the influence of cell cycle on SSC activity of mouse germline stem (GS) cells, a population of cultured spermatogonia enriched for SSCs. GS cells in the G1 phase are more efficient than those in the S/G2-M phase in colonizing the seminiferous tubules of adult mice. Cells in the G1 phase not only showed higher expression levels of GFRA1, a component of the GDNF self-renewal factor receptor, but also adhered more efficiently to laminin-coated plates. Furthermore, this cell cycle-dependency was not observed when cells were transplanted into immature pup recipients, which do not have the blood-testis barrier (BTB) between Sertoli cells, suggesting that cells in the G1 phase may passage through the BTB more readily than cells in the S/G2-M phase. Thus cell cycle status is an important factor in regulating SSC migration to the niche.
We recently found that aberrant DNA hypomethylation is more common on the X chromosome than on other chromosomes in uterine leiomyomas by genome-wide DNA methylation profiling. To investigate the mechanism of aberrant hypomethylation on the X chromosome in uterine leiomyomas, we analyzed methylome and transcriptome data from three cases of leiomyomas and the adjacent myometrium. We found that eleven of the aberrantly hypomethylated genes on the X chromosome were common to the three cases. None of these 11 genes were transcriptionally upregulated in the leiomyoma. However, one of them, TSPYL2, was hypomethylated in 68% of multiple leiomyoma specimens. The incidence of aberrant hypomethylation of TSPYL2 was comparable to that of the MED12 mutation (68%), which is known to be detected at a high frequency in uterine leiomyomas. We also analyzed the aberration of the X chromosome inactivation (XCI) mechanism in uterine leiomyomas. Hypomethylation was not enriched in the imprinted genes, suggesting that dysfunction of polycomb repressive complexes is not involved in the aberrant hypomethylation on the X chromosome. The expression analysis of XCI-related genes revealed that the XIST and SATB1 expression was downregulated in 36% and 46% of 11 leiomyoma specimens, respectively, while the HNRNPU and SMCHD1 expression was not altered. In conclusion, the aberration of XCI-related genes such as SATB1 or XIST may be involved in aberrant hypomethylation on the X chromosome in a certain population of the patients with uterine leiomyomas. TSPYL2 of the aberrantly hypomethylated genes on the X chromosome can be used as a biomarker of uterine leiomyomas.
Estrogen action is mediated through several types of receptors (ERs), such as ERα, ERβ and putative membrane ERs. Oxytocin receptor (OTR) and ER expression levels in the rat uterus are regulated by estrogen; however, which types of ERs are involved has not been elucidated. This study examined OTR, ERα and ERβ levels in ovariectomized rats treated with 17β-estradiol (E2), an ERα agonist (PPT), an ERβ agonist (DPN) or estren (Es). E2 and PPT increased OTR mRNA levels and decreased ERα and ERβ mRNA levels 3 and 6 h posttreatment. DPN decreased ERα and ERβ mRNA levels at 3 and 6 h, while OTR mRNA levels increased at 3 h and decreased at 6 h. OTR mRNA levels increased 3 h after the Es treatment and then declined until 6 h. ERα and ERβ mRNA levels decreased by 3 h and remained low until 6 h posttreatment with Es. The ER antagonist ICI182,780 (ICI) suppressed the increases in OTR mRNA levels induced 3 h after the Es treatment. However, ICI and tamoxifen (Tam) had no significant effect on ERα and ERβ mRNA levels in the Es-treated or vehicle-treated group. In intact rats, proestrus-associated increases in OTR mRNA levels were antagonized by both ICI and Tam. However, decreases in ERα and ERβ mRNA levels were not antagonized by Tam and ICI, respectively. Therefore, uterine OTR gene expression is upregulated by estrogen through the classical nuclear (or non-nuclear) ERs, ERα and ERβ, while the levels of these ERs are downregulated by estrogen through multiple pathways including Es-sensitive nonclassical ERs.
In this study, we examined the existence and structure of areolae and the steroidogenesis of areolar trophoblast cells in the Antarctic minke whale placenta morphologically and immunohistochemically. Placentas were collected from the 15th, 16th and 18th Japanese Whale Research Program under Special Permit in the Antarctic (JARPA) and 1st JARPA II organized by the Institute of Cetacean Research in Tokyo, Japan. The opening and cavity of fetal areolae formed by taller columnar trophoblast cells (areolar trophoblast cells) with long microvilli and a bright cytoplasm, as compared with the trophoblast cells of the chorionic villi interdigitating with the endometrial crypts, were recognized in observations of serial sections. The opening of the areolar cavity was hidden by chorionic villi with areolar trophoblast cells. Furthermore, a closed pouch-like structure lined by tall columnar cells similar to areolar trophoblast cells within the stroma of chorionic villi was noticed and continued to the areolar cavity, with the opening seen on serial sections. In a surface investigation of the chorion and endometrium by SEM, maternal (endometrial) areolae irregularly surrounded by endometrial folds were obvious. Moreover, we distinguished areolar trophoblast cells with long microvilli attached with many blebs from trophoblast cells. In our immunohistochemical observations, a steroidogenic enzyme, cytochrome P450 side chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc), was detected with strong immunoreactivity in trophoblast cells. However, areolar trophoblast cells showed weak or no immunoreactivity for P450scc.
Cryopreservation of growing oocytes enriches the choice of timing and location of artificial embryo production. However, completion of oocyte growth after warming is crucial when using such cryopreserved oocytes. Our research objective was to develop a sequential system that incorporates cryopreservation of growing bovine oocytes and their subsequent in vitro growth. Oocyte-granulosa cell complexes with a mean oocyte diameter of approximately 100 µm were vitrified-warmed and then cultured for 14 days. The percentage of surviving oocytes following cryopreservation and 14-day culture was approximately 80%. More than half of the surviving oocytes were capable of maturing to metaphase II after in vitro maturation; the rate was comparable to that of control oocytes grown in vitro without cryopreservation. Taken together, the combined protocols for vitrification-warming of growing oocytes and subsequent in vitro growth can produce oocytes capable of undergoing meiotic maturation.
Isolated stromal cells from the ampullary and isthmic parts of bovine oviductal tissues were cultured in monolayer and spheroid (cell aggregate) systems. Prostaglandin F2α (PGF) plays a crucial role in oviductal contraction and is produced by oviductal epithelial cells in cattle. Since stromal cells of many organs produce PGF, PGF production by bovine oviductal stromal cells was investigated. After PGF synthesis was confirmed, the utility of isolation and culture methods for oviductal stromal cells was evaluated by PGF production in the present study. The homogeneity of the cells was > 99%. PGF production of the cells was increased by tumor necrosis factor-α. The stromal cells aggregated and formed a spheroid by the treatments with several reagents. PGF production was higher in the spheroid culture than in the monolayer culture. The isolation and culture methods described here will facilitate studies of the physiological function of bovine oviductal stromal cells.
This study was designed to investigate whether supplementation of 2i medium with leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and/or forskolin would support establishment of germline-competent rat embryonic stem (ES) cell lines. Due to the higher likelihood of outgrowth rates, supplementation of forskolin with or without LIF contributed to the higher establishment efficiency of ES cell lines in the WDB strain. Germline transmission competency of the chimeric rats was not influenced by the profile of ES cell lines until their establishment. When the LIF/forskolin-supplemented 2i medium was used, the rat strain used as the blastocyst donor, such as the WI strain, was a possible factor negatively influencing the establishment efficiency of ES cell lines. Once ES cell lines were established, all lines were found to be germline-competent by a progeny test in chimeric rats. In conclusion, both LIF and forskolin are not essential but can play a beneficial role in the establishment of “genuine” rat ES cell lines.