The present study aimed to assess the effect of polymorphisms in the tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) promoter (A/A, A/G and G/G) and exons (T/T, T/C and C/C) on immune function and reproductive performance in dairy cows. The occurrence of the first postpartum ovulation within 3 weeks in the cows with the TNF-α promoter A/G and G/G genotypes was higher than in the A/A group. Among the different TNF-α exon genotypes, the occurrence of early first postpartum ovulation was higher in the T/C and C/C genotype groups than in the T/T group. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TNF-α gene did not affect the rate of artificial insemination (AI) or duration from parturition to next conception (days open). The apoptosis rate of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) did not differ among the TNF-α promoter genotypes, but the PMN transmigration rate was significantly higher for the A/A and A/G genotypes than for the G/G genotype. Interleukin 8 (IL-8) mRNA expression in PMNs and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) before culture was significantly higher for the A/A genotype compared with the G/G genotype. There were no significant differences between the genotypes in the mRNA expression of TNF-α, IL-6, IL-1β, and toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) in PMNs and PBMCs before and 4 h after culture. IL-8 and IL-1β production by PBMCs cultured for 4 h was significantly higher for the animals with the A/A genotype than for those with the G/G genotype. On the other hand, no significant difference was observed in IL-8 and IL-1β production by PMNs among different TNF-α genotypes. Taken together, these results suggest that SNP in the TNF-α gene affects immune function and reproductive performance in dairy cows.
In the mammalian testis, the ubiquitin-proteasome system plays important roles in the process that promotes the formation of mature sperm. We recently identified zygote-specific proteasome assembly chaperone (ZPAC), which is specifically expressed in the mouse gonads and zygote. ZPAC mediates a unique proteasome assembly pathway in the zygote, but the expression profile and function of ZPAC in the testis is not fully understood. In this study, we investigated the possible role of ZPAC during mouse spermatogenesis. First, we analyzed the expression of ZPAC and 20S proteasome subunit α4/PSMA7 in the adult mouse testis. ZPAC and α4 were expressed in spermatogonia, spermatocytes, and round spermatids. In elongating spermatids, ZPAC was expressed until step 10, whereas expression of α4 persisted until step 12. We then examined the expression profile of ZPAC and α4 in a mouse model of experimental unilateral cryptorchidism. Consistent with appearance of morphologically impaired germ cells following cryptorchidism, the ZPAC protein level was significantly decreased at 4 days post induction of experimental cryptorchidism (D4) compared with the intact testis, although the amount of α4 protein persisted at least until D10. Moreover, intense ZPAC staining was co-localized with staining of annexin V, an early indicator of apoptosis in mammalian cells, in germ cells of cryptorchid testis, but ZPAC was also expressed in germ cells showing no detectable expression of annexin V. These results suggest that ZPAC plays a role during spermatogenesis and raises the possibility that 20S proteasome mediated by ZPAC may be involved in the regulation of germ cell survival during spermatogenesis.
Successful in vitro fertilization (IVF) in mice has been achieved using spermatozoa at concentrations specifically optimized for the experimental conditions, such as species and source of spermatozoa. Although IVF in mice is mostly performed using about 80–500 µl drops, it is expected that the number of spermatozoa used for insemination can be reduced by decreasing the size of the IVF drops. The present study was undertaken to examine the extent to which the number of spermatozoa used for IVF could be reduced by using small droplets (1 µl). We devised the experimental parameters using frozen–thawed spermatozoa from C57BL/6 mice in anticipation of broader applications to other mouse facilities. We found that as few as 5 spermatozoa per droplet could fertilize oocytes (1 or 3 oocytes per droplet), although the fertilization rates were low (13–15%). Practical fertilization rates (> 40%) could be achieved with frozen-thawed C57BL/6J spermatozoa, which are sensitive to cryopreservation, when 20 sperm per droplet were used to inseminate 3 oocytes. Even with spermatozoa from a very poor quality suspension (10% motility), about 25% of oocytes were fertilized. Our calculations indicate that the number of inseminated spermatozoa per oocyte can be reduced to 1/96–1/240 by this method. In two separate embryo transfer experiments, 60% and 47%, respectively, of embryos developed to term. Our microdroplet IVF method may be particularly advantageous when only a limited number of motile spermatozoa are available because of inadequate freezing-thawing or genetic reasons.
To determine whether hypoxia has an effect on luteinization, we examined the influence of hypoxia on a model of bovine luteinizing and non-luteinizing granulosa cell culture. The granulosa cells were obtained from small antral follicles (≤ 6 mm in diameter). To induce luteinization, the cells were treated for 24 h with insulin (2 µg/ml), forskolin (10 µM) or insulin in combination with forskolin at 20% O2. After 24 h, progesterone (P4) production was higher in the treated cells, which we defined as luteinizing granulosa cells, than in non-treated cells, which we defined as non-luteinizing granulosa cells. P4 production by non-luteinizing granulosa cells was not affected by hypoxia (24 h at 10% and 5% O2), while P4 production by granulosa cells treated with insulin in combination with forskolin was significantly increased under hypoxia (24 h at 10% and 5% O2). Because hypoxia affected P4 production by the luteinizing granulosa cells but not by the non-luteinizing granulosa cells, hypoxia seems to promote P4 production during, rather than before, luteinization. In the cells treated with insulin in combination with forskolin, mRNA and protein expression of steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) and protein expression of 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3β-HSD) increased under 10% O2, while mRNA and protein expressions of key protein and enzymes in P4 biosynthesis did not increase under 5% O2. The overall results suggest that hypoxia plays a role in progressing and completing the luteinization by enhancing P4 production through StAR as well as 3β-HSD expressions in the early time of establishing the corpus luteum.
It has been recently shown that mammalian spermatozoa were hyperactivated by steroids, amines and amino acids. In the present study, we investigated whether hyperactivation of hamster sperm is regulated by progesterone (P) and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Although sperm hyperactivation was enhanced by P, GABA significantly suppressed P-enhanced hyperactivation in a dose-dependent manner. Suppression of P-enhanced hyperactivation by GABA was significantly inhibited by an antagonist of the GABAA receptor (bicuculline). Moreover, P bound to the sperm head, and this binding was decreased by GABA. Because the concentrations of GABA and P change in association with the estrous cycle, these results suggest that GABA and P competitively regulate the enhancement of hyperactivation through the GABAA receptor.
The objectives of the present study were to establish a nonsurgical transfer method for elongating bovine conceptuses and to combine this method with biopsy and sexing. Bovine conceptuses were recovered from donor cows on days 13–14 of the estrus cycle. In experiment 1, day 13 conceptuses were transferred to recipient cows using a standard day 7 embryo transfer (ET) method. The pregnancy rate of day 13 conceptus transfer (CT) is comparable to that of day 7 ET. In experiment 2, day 14 conceptuses were transferred using modified methods (balloon catheters or ET guns with modified sheaths). Using the standard ET method, no pregnancies were obtained; however, when balloon catheters or ET guns with modified sheaths were used, the pregnancy rates after CT were 48.0% and 44.8%, respectively. In experiment 3, day 14 conceptuses were biopsied without a micromanipulator, sexed using the loop-mediated isothermal amplification method and transferred to recipient cows. The pregnancy rate of biopsied conceptuses was 46.2% and did not differ significantly from that of unbiopsied conceptuses. Moreover, all pregnant cows transferred conceptuses following biopsy and sexing delivered calves with the expected sexes. These results suggested that the nonsurgical bovine CT method was comparable to day 7 ET and that this technique enables biopsy and sexing without expensive equipment such as a micromanipulator or specialized skills.
Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) is involved in regulations of reproductive functions in rats and mice. IGF-1 expression is regulated by estrogen in several reproductive organs including the uterus and ovary. Two types of estrogen receptor (ERα and ERβ) are expressed in mouse uteri and ovaries, and it is unclear whether they differently mediate IGF-1 gene transcription. To clarify the roles of ERα and ERβ, mouse endometrial stromal cells and ovarian granulosa cells were treated with ligands specific for individual estrogen receptors. In endometrial stromal cells, propyl-pyrazole-triol (PPT; ERα-selective agonist) increased Igf1 mRNA expression, which was suppressed by methyl-piperidino-pyrazole (MPP, ERα-selective antagonist), while diarylpropionitrile (DPN, ERβ-potency selective agonist) increased Igf1 mRNA expression, which was inhibited by MPP but not by 4-[2-phenyl-5,7-bis(trifluoromethyl)pyrazolo[1,5-α]pyrimidin-3-yl]phenol (PHTPP; ERβ antagonist). PHTPP enhanced the DPN-induced increase in Igf1 mRNA expression. In ovarian granulosa cells, E2 and DPN decreased Igf1 mRNA expression, whereas PPT did not affect Igf1 mRNA levels. In these cells, PHTPP inhibited the DPN-induced decrease in Igf1 mRNA expression. These results suggest that ERα facilitates Igf1 transcription, whereas ERβ appears to inhibit Igf1 gene transcription in mouse endometrial stromal cells and ovarian granulosa cells.
Germ cell-specific genes such as Ddx4, Dnd1, and Dazl play critical roles in the proliferation and survival of germ cells. However, the methylation state of the promoter in mature germ cells is still unknown. Here, we investigated the methylation levels of these genes and the pluripotency marker gene Nanog in chicken sperm as compared with the Alb gene in the liver. CpG islands and/or promoter motifs such as TATA box, GC box and CAAT box were found within the putative promoter regions that we identified. By using the bisulfite reaction, CpG sites in the putative promoters were converted, and they were analyzed by sequencing. The putative promoters of Ddx4, Dnd1, Dazl and Nanog showed very low methylation levels in sperm, but they were highly methylated in the liver. Conversely, the Alb gene promoter was highly methylated in sperm and hypomethylated in the liver. However, no transcripts of Ddx4, Dnd1, Dazl and Nanog were detected in sperm or the liver. Also, no transcripts of Dnmt1 and Dnmt3a were detected in sperm. Our present results may indicate that these germ cell-specific genes and the pluripotency marker gene are ready to express any time after fertilization. Our findings showing that low methylation and selective DNA methylation of specific genes are present in chicken sperm contribute to our understanding of fertilization and embryogenesis of birds.
The development and regeneration of the pancreas is of considerable interest because of the role of these processes in pancreatic diseases, such as diabetes. Here, we sought to develop a large animal model in which the pancreatic cell lineage could be tracked. The pancreatic and duodenal homeobox-1 (Pdx1) gene promoter was conjugated to Venus, a green fluorescent protein, and introduced into 370 in vitro-matured porcine oocytes by intracytoplasmic sperm injection-mediated gene transfer. These oocytes were transferred into four recipient gilts, all of which became pregnant. Three gilts were sacrificed at 47–65 days of gestation, and the fourth was allowed to farrow. Seven of 16 fetuses obtained were transgenic (Tg) and exhibited pancreas-specific green fluorescence. The fourth recipient gilt produced a litter of six piglets, two of which were Tg. The founder Tg offspring matured normally and produced healthy first-generation (G1) progeny. A postweaning autopsy of four 27-day-old G1 Tg piglets confirmed the pancreas-specific Venus expression. Immunostaining of the pancreatic tissue indicated the transgene was expressed in β-cells. Pancreatic islets from Tg pigs were transplanted under the renal capsules of NOD/SCID mice and expressed fluorescence up to one month after transplantation. Tg G1 pigs developed normally and had blood glucose levels within the normal range. Insulin levels before and after sexual maturity were within normal ranges, as were other blood biochemistry parameters, indicating that pancreatic function was normal. We conclude that Pdx1-Venus Tg pigs represent a large animal model suitable for research on pancreatic development/regeneration and diabetes.
The estrogenic efficacy of topical vaginal application of Pueraria mirifica extract (PM) on the restoration of vaginal atrophy, and the presence of any systemic side effects, were investigated in postmenopausal cynomolgus macaques. Twelve postmenopausal cynomolgus macaques, with complete cessation of menstruation for at least 5 years before start of this experiment, were divided into three groups. They received a topical vaginal application daily of 0.1 or 1% (w/w) PM cream or a conjugated equine estrogen (CEE) cream (a mixture of estrone, equilin, 17β-dihydroequilin, 17α-estradiol and 17α-dihydroequilin at 0.625 mg total estrogen/g cream) for 28 days. Estrogenic efficacy was assessed weekly by vaginal cytology assay and vaginal pH measurement, whilst the plasma luteinizing hormone (LH) and sex skin coloration levels were determined at the end of each treatment period to evaluate the systemic side effects. PM significantly increased the proportion of superficial cells in a dose-dependent manner, with a similar efficacy between 1% (w/w) PM and CEE. Together with increased vaginal maturation, PM decreased the vaginal pH to acidic levels, as observed in the CEE group. PM induced no detected systemic side effects, whilst CEE decreased the plasma LH level and increased the reddish color of the sex skin during the posttreatment period. Topical vaginal treatment with PM stimulated the maturation of the vaginal epithelium without causing systemic side effects in postmenopausal monkeys. The implication is that PM could be a safer alternative to treat vaginal atrophy in postmenopausal women.
The present study was conducted to examine the feasibility of in vitro embryo production and transfer technologies for producing Middle White piglets. After collection from three retired Middle White sows, a total of 222 oocytes were matured, fertilized and cultured in vitro, and a total of 50 embryos from the 4-cell to blastocyst stage were produced by the 4th or 5th day. These embryos were transferred individually into three recipients along with 5 in vivo-derived Duroc blastocysts. All of the recipients became pregnant, and they farrowed a total of 9 Middle White and 9 Duroc piglets. These results suggest that in vitro embryo production using ovaries from retired sows is useful for reproduction of pigs of pure breeds including the Middle White for breeding activities and conservation/utilization of genetic resources.
Transgenic mice are essential research tools in developmental biology studies. The 2A peptide allows multiple genes to be expressed simultaneously at comparable levels in somatic cells, but there are no reports of it being used successfully in germ cells. We constructed a Cre/loxP-based conditional vector containing the 2A peptide to significantly enhance the expression of a reporter and target gene from a constitutive promoter in oocytes. Mice with a transgene insertion containing the chicken β-actin promoter, floxed EGFP-polyA cassette, mCherry reporter, 2A peptide and target gene DNA methyltransferase 3A2 (Dnmt3a2) were crossed with TNAP- or Vasa-Cre mice to produce offspring, in which mCherry and DNMT3A2 proteins were highly expressed in oocytes upon Cre-mediated removal of EGFP-polyA. This novel transgenic mouse line based on the 2A expression system can serve as a useful tool for examining gene function during oogenesis.
In pigs, the embryonic developmental ability after intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is inferior to that resulting from in vitro fertilization (IVF). We evaluated the timing of cell division up to blastocyst formation on embryonic development after ICSI using either whole sperm (w-ICSI) or the sperm head alone (h-ICSI) and IVF as a control. At 10 h after ICSI or IVF, we selected only zygotes, and each of the zygotes/embryos was evaluated for cleavage every 24 h until 168 h. We then observed a delay in the 1st and 2nd cleavages of h-ICSI embryos and also in blastocoele formation by w-ICSI embryos in comparison with IVF embryos. The rate of blastocyst formation and the quality of blastocysts in both ICSI groups were inferior to those in the IVF group. In conclusion, the delay in cleavage of porcine ICSI embryos shows poorer embryonic development.
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