Nuclear transfer is a complex multistep procedure that includes oocyte maturation, cell cycle synchronization of donor cells, enucleation, cell fusion, oocyte activation and embryo culture. Therefore, many factors are believed to contribute to the success of embryo development following nuclear transfer. Numerous attempts to improve cloning efficiency have been conducted since the birth of the first sheep by somatic cell nuclear transfer. However, the efficiency of somatic cell cloning has remained low, and applications have been limited. In this review, we discuss some of the factors that affect the developmental ability of somatic cell nuclear transfer embryos in cattle.
Trichostatin A (TSA), a histone deacetylase inhibitor, has been widely used to improve the cloning efficiency in several species. This brings our attention to investigation of the effects of TSA on developmental potential of swamp buffalo cloned embryos. Swamp buffalo cloned embryos were produced by electrical pulse fusion of male swamp buffalo fibroblasts with swamp buffalo enucleated oocytes. After fusion, reconstructed oocytes were treated with 0, 25 or 50 nM TSA for 10 h. The results showed that there was no significant difference in the rates of fusion (82–85%), cleavage (79–84%) and development to the 8-cell stage (59–65%) among treatment groups. The highest developmental rates to the morula and blastocyst stages of embryos were found in the 25 nM TSA-treated group (42.7 and 30.1%, respectively). We also analyzed the DNA methylation level in the satellite I region of donor cells and in in vitro fertilized (IVF) and cloned embryos using the bisulfite DNA sequencing method. The results indicated that the DNA methylation levels in cloned embryos were significantly higher than those of IVF embryos but approximately similar to those of donor cells. Moreover, there was no significant difference in the methylation level among TSA-treated and untreated cloned embryos. Thus, TSA treatments at 25 nM for 10 h could enhance the in vitro developmental potential of swamp buffalo cloned embryos, but no beneficial effect on the DNA methylation level was observed.
We have previously shown that polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) are present in bovine oviduct fluid under physiological conditions, and that the oviduct provides a microenvironment that protects sperm from phagocytosis by PMNs. Alpha 1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) is a major acute-phase protein produced mainly in the liver that has immunomodulatory functions. AGP mRNA is expressed in extrahepatic organs, such as the lung, kidney, spleen, lymph node, uterus, and ovary. Therefore, in this study, we investigated, 1) the local production of AGP in the bovine oviduct, 2) the effect of AGP on the phagocytic activity of PMNs for sperm and superoxide production and 3) the impact of AGP desialylation on the PMN phagocytosis of sperm. The AGP gene was expressed in cultured bovine oviduct epithelial cells (BOECs) and AGP protein was detected in oviduct fluid. Preexposure of PMNs to AGP at physiological levels impaired PMN phagocytosis for sperm and superoxide generation. The desialylation of AGP eliminated these suppressive effects of AGP on PMN. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that AGP drastically reduced the formation of DNA-based neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) for sperm entanglement. Additionally, AGP dose-dependently stimulated BOECs to produce prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) which has been shown to partially contribute to the regulation of sperm phagocytosis in the bovine oviduct. AGP and PGE2 at concentrations detected in the oviducts additively suppressed sperm phagocytosis by PMNs. These results provide evidence that locally produced AGP may be involved in protecting sperm from phagocytosis by PMNs in the bovine oviduct.
The osmolarities of media that are most effective for in vitro culture of mammalian oocytes and embryos are lower than that of oviductal fluid. Oocytes and embryos can survive the high physiological osmolarity in vivo perhaps owing to the presence of amino acids such as glycine, which serve as organic osmolytes in the female reproductive tract. In the present study, the effects of glycine on the parthenogenetic development of pig oocytes were examined in hypotonic or isotonic media. The results showed that culturing oocytes in isotonic media improved the cleavage rates (P<0.01) at 2 days in culture but inhibited any further development beyond cleavage when compared with the hypotonic media. However, addition of 4 mM glycine to the isotonic media resulted in improved blastocyst formation rates compared with that observed in the hypotonic media (P<0.01), and there was no inhibition of development beyond the cleavage stages in oocytes. The beneficial effects of glycine were observed only when oocytes were cultured in isotonic media and glycine was added at day 2 or 3 in culture. The results from the present study indicate that an isotonic medium with glycine is useful for in vitro culture of pig oocytes and that glycine may protect pig oocytes against the detrimental effects of increased osmolarity.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of rapid cooling prior to freezing on frozen-thawed canine sperm quality. In experiment 1, centrifuged ejaculates from 6 dogs were pooled, split into 4 aliquots and cryopreserved by the Uppsala procedure using different cooling rates (control, cooling speed 18 C/90 min and average cooling rate 0.2 C/min; rapid, cooling speed 18 C/8 min and average cooling rate 2.25 C/min) in combination with 2 glycerol addition protocols (fractionated or unfractionated). In experiment 2, centrifuged ejaculates from 4 dogs were processed individually using the same cooling rates described in experiment 1 in combination with an unfractionated glycerol addition protocol. Each of the experiments was replicated 5 times. Sperm quality was evaluated after 30 and 150 min of post-thawing incubation at 38 C. Total motility (TM), progressive motility (PM) and quality of movement parameters were assessed using a computerized system, and sperm viability (spermatozoa with intact plasma and acrosome membranes) was assessed using flow cytometry (H-42/PI/FITC-PNA). Values for TM, PM, viable spermatozoa and the quality of movement parameters after thawing were not significantly affected by the cooling rate. The interaction between the cooling rate and the added glycerol protocol was not significant. There were significant differences among the males (P<0.01) in the sperm quality parameters evaluated after thawing. The interaction between the males and the cooling rate was not significant. In conclusion, canine spermatozoa can be cryopreserved using the Uppsala method at an average cooling rate of 2.25 C/min prior to freezing together with addition of fractionated or unfractionated glycerol.
The nuclear receptor REV-ERBα (encoded by NR1D1) has a critical role in metabolism and physiology as well as circadian rhythm. Here, we investigated the possible contribution of clock genes including NR1D1 to the secretion of prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α) from bovine uterine stromal (USCs) and epithelial cells (UECs) by modulating the expression of PTGS2. The circadian oscillation of clock genes in the cells was weak compared with that reported in rodents, but the expression of BMAL1, PER1, and NR1D1 was changed temporally by treatment with ovarian steroids. Significant expression of clock genes including NR1D1 was detected in USCs exposed to progesterone. NR1D1 was also significantly expressed in UECs exposed to estradiol. The expression of PTGS2 was suppressed in USCs exposed to progesterone, while the expression was initially suppressed in UECs exposed to estradiol and then increased after long-term exposure to estradiol. BMAL1 knockdown with specific siRNA caused a significant decrease in the transcript levels of NR1D1 and PTGS2 in USCs, but not in UECs. The production of PGF2α also decreased in USCs after BMAL1 knockdown, while its level did not significantly change in UECs. The transcript level of PTGS2 was increased by treatment with the antagonist of REV-ERBα in both cell types, but the agonist was ineffective. In these two cell types treated with the agonist or antagonist, the PGF2α production coincided well with the PTGS2 expression. Collectively, these results indicate that REV-ERBα plays an inhibitory role in the expression of PTGS2 in both bovine USCs and UECs treated with ovarian steroids.
This study aimed to evaluate the effect of recipient-donor estrous cycle synchrony on recipient reproductive performance after nonsurgical deep-uterine (NsDU) embryo transfer (ET). The transfers (N=132) were conducted in recipients sows that started estrus 24 h before (–24 h; N=9) or 0 h (synchronous; N=31), 24 h (+24 h; N=74) or 48 h (+48 h; N=18) after the donors. A total of 30 day 5 morulae or day 6 blastocysts (day 0=onset of estrus) were transferred per recipient. The highest farrowing rates (FRs) were achieved when estrus appeared in recipients 24 h later than that in the donors (81.1%), regardless of the embryonic stage used for the transfers. The FR notably decreased (P<0.05) when recipients were –24 h asynchronous (0%), synchronous (61.3%) or +48 h asynchronous (50%) relative to the donors. No differences in litter size (LS) and piglet birth weights were observed among the synchronous and +24 h or +48 h asynchronous groups. While a +24 h asynchronous recipient was suitable for transfers performed with either morulae (FR, 74.3%; LS, 9.2 ± 0.6 piglets) or blastocysts (FR, 84.6%; LS, 9.8 ± 0.6 piglets), a + 48 h asynchronous recipient was adequate for blastocysts (FR, 87.5%; LS, 10.4 ± 0.7 piglets) but not for morulae (FR, 30.0%; LS, 7.3 ± 2.3 piglets). In conclusion, this study confirms the effectiveness of the NsDU-ET technology and shows that porcine embryos tolerate better a less advanced uterine environment if they are nonsurgically transferred deep into the uterine horn.
Incomplete DNA methylation reprogramming in cloned embryos leads to low cloning efficiency. Our previous studies showed that the epigenetic modification agents 5-aza-2’-deoxycytidine (5-aza-dC) or trichostatin A (TSA) could enhance the developmental competence of porcine cloned embryos. Here, we investigated genomic methylation dynamics and specific gene expression levels during early embryonic development in pigs. In this study, our results showed that there was a typical wave of DNA demethylation and remethylation of centromeric satellite repeat (CenRep) in fertilized embryos, whereas in cloned embryos, delayed demethylation and a lack of remethylation were observed. When cloned embryos were treated with 5-aza-dC or TSA, CenRep methylation reprogramming was improved, and this was similar to that detected in fertilized counterparts. Furthermore, we found that the epigenetic modification agents, especially TSA, effectively promoted silencing of tissue specific genes and transcription of early embryo development-related genes in porcine cloned embryos. In conclusion, our results showed that the epigenetic modification agent 5-aza-dC or TSA could improve genomic methylation reprogramming in porcine cloned embryos and regulate the appropriate expression levels of genes related to early embryonic development, thereby resulting in high developmental competence.
The core histone is composed of four proteins (H2A, H2B, H3 and H4). Investigation of the modification patterns of histones is critical to understanding their roles in biological processes. Although histone modification is observed in multiple cells and tissues, little is known about its function in spermatogenesis. We focused on the modification patterns of histone H4 during murine spermatogenesis. We demonstrated that the individual N-terminal sites of H4 show different modification patterns during the differentiation of male germ cells. The methylation pattern varied depending on the residues that were mono-, di-, or tri-methylated. All the H4 modifications were high during the meiotic prophase, suggesting that histone H4 modification plays an important role during this stage of spermatogenesis. Elongating spermatids showed increased acetylation of histone H4, which may be associated with a histone-to-protamine substitution. Our results provide further insight into the specific relationship between histone H4 modification and gene expression during spermatogenesis, which could help to elucidate the epigenetic disorders underlying male infertility.
In this study, we determined the expression and activation of p38 MAPK in matured porcine oocytes subjected to heat shock (HS). When MII oocytes were heated, only the phosphorylated p38 levels relative to the total p38 levels decreased (P < 0.01) after HS, but no clear relationship with HS treatments was observed in the ERK, JNK and p90rsk expressions of matured oocytes. To confirm p38 activation in matured oocytes, immunocytochemical staining was performed to localize its expression and distribution in the ooplasm, and the results were largely consistent with previous Western blot analyses. Moreover, when matured oocytes were co-cultured with a P38 MAPK inhibitor, SB203580, for 4 h at 41.5 C, the activation of its immediate downstream substrate MAPKAPK-2 was not inhibited within any of the treatment groups. It appears that the MAPKAPK2 levels increased only under prolonged culture (HS4h and C4h) compared with the control group. In conclusion, p38 activity in porcine oocytes was decreased after exposure to HS and prolonged culture. These alterations of p38 and activation of MAPKAPK2 may be associated with porcine oocyte viability under HS conditions, and a potential cross-talk between p38 MAPK and other signaling cascades may exist, which warrants additional investigation.
The uterotubal junction (UTJ) and caudal isthmus are recognized as a functional pre-ovulatory sperm reservoir (SR). Spermatozoa are released from the SR in a complex and concerted action. However, whether this functionality is restricted only to the ovulatory period is still open to debate. Our study was aimed to analyze the presence of spermatozoa within the UTJ (SR), isthmus (ISTH) and ampulla (AMP) after laparoscopic intrauterine insemination (LIUI) either in the peri- (PERI) or post-ovulatory (POST) period or at mid cycle (MID). Each uterine horn of estrus synchronized gilts (n=12) was inseminated with 20 ml sperm (29.5×106 cells/ml). Oviducts were recovered 7 h after LIUI and separated into the UTJ, ISTH and AMP, and sections were flushed with 10 ml PBS+EDTA solution. After centrifugation, the sperm pellet was evaluated by Čeřovský staining. The median sperm numbers in the PERI, POST and MID groups were 578, 171 and 789 in the UTJ; 545, 233 and 713 in the ISTH; and 496, 280 and 926 in the AMP, respectively, and there were differences between the POST and MID groups (P<0.05) but not between the oviductal sections of each group (P>0.05). Compared with the MID group, the percent of intact sperm cells was higher (P<0.01) in the PERI and POST groups (32.8 vs. 66.4 and 76.8%). Also, the percentages of aberrations in the acrosome and tail were higher (P<0.05) in the MID group. Based on this, it can be assumed that the sperm reservoir is active during different phases of the estrus cycle. However, the mid-cycle oviduct environment considerably impairs sperm cell quality.