Ovaries contain follicles at various stages of development, including primordial, primary, secondary, antral and Graafian follicles. Although the growth of these follicles is controlled to maintain regular ovulation, the mechanism through which this occurs remains unclear. In our study, we found that the growth rate of cultured secondary follicles separated from mice ovaries differed between follicles. After 4 days of culture, the size of some secondary follicles was markedly increased, while that of others had either slightly increased, remained unchanged or shrunk. We compared the expression levels of growth factors between these secondary follicles and found that the growth rate of cultured secondary follicles correlated with the expression level of insulin-like growth factor 1 (Igf1) mRNA. Igf1 mRNA expression level in secondary follicles containing theca cells was higher than that in secondary follicles without theca cells, and the granulosa cell proliferation around follicles containing theca cells was increased. Furthermore, an IGF1 inhibitor also inhibited the granulosa cell proliferation, and administration of IGF1 to secondary follicles without growth promoted granulosa cell proliferation. These results indicated that the theca cells of secondary follicles induced the expression of IGF1 and promoted the follicle growth.
Monomeric Plum (Plum), a far-red fluorescent protein with photostability and photopermeability, is potentially suitable for in vivo imaging and detection of fluorescence in body tissues. The aim of this study was to generate transgenic cloned pigs exhibiting systemic expression of Plum using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technology. Nuclear donor cells for SCNT were obtained by introducing a Plum-expression vector driven by a combination of the cytomegalovirus early enhancer and chicken beta-actin promoter into porcine fetal fibroblasts (PFFs). The cleavage and blastocyst formation rates of reconstructed SCNT embryos were 81.0% (34/42) and 78.6% (33/42), respectively. At 36–37 days of gestation, three fetuses systemically expressing Plum were obtained from one recipient to which 103 SCNT embryos were transferred (3/103, 2.9%). For generation of offspring expressing Plum, rejuvenated PFFs were established from one cloned fetus and used as nuclear donor cells. Four cloned offspring and one stillborn cloned offspring were produced from one recipient to which 117 SCNT embryos were transferred (5/117, 4.3%). All offspring exhibited high levels of Plum fluorescence in blood cells, such as lymphocytes, monocytes and granulocytes. In addition, the skin, heart, kidney, pancreas, liver and spleen also exhibited Plum expression. These observations demonstrated that transfer of the Plum gene did not interfere with the development of porcine SCNT embryos and resulted in the successful generation of transgenic cloned pigs that systemically expressed Plum. This is the first report of the generation and characterization of transgenic cloned pigs expressing the far-red fluorescent protein Plum.
Histone H2B monoubiquitination (H2Bub1) plays an important role in developmental regulation in various vertebrate species. However, the role of H2Bub1 in mammalian preimplantation development remains unclear. In the present study, we examined the role of H2Bub1 in the regulation of mouse preimplantation development. Based on immunocytochemical analysis using an anti-H2Bub1 antibody, no H2Bub1 signal was detected in the metaphase chromosomes of unfertilized oocytes or the pronuclei of early 1-cell stage embryos, but a weak signal was observed in late 1-cell stage embryos. The signal increased after cleavage into the 2-cell stage, and thereafter a strong signal was observed until the blastocyst stage. To assess the significance of H2Bub1 in the regulation of preimplantation development, RNF20 (an H2B-specific ubiquitin E3 ligase) was knocked down using small interfering RNA (siRNAs). In embryos treated with siRNA, the levels of Rnf20 mRNA and H2Bub1 decreased at the 4-cell and morula stages. Although these embryos developed normally until the morula stage, only one-third developed into the blastocyst stage. These results suggested that H2Bub1 is involved in the regulation of preimplantation development.
Sperm DNA damage affects the conception rate resulting from human assisted reproduction technology. The objective of this study was to adapt the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) assay to provide a quality parameter for bull semen based on the detection of sperm DNA damage. Fresh semen was collected from two Japanese Black bulls (A, B) several times over the course of a year, and the percentage of TUNEL-positive spermatozoa (sperm TUNEL index) was determined. Individual differences in semen were detected using the sperm TUNEL index in these bulls (P < 0.01). The sperm TUNEL index of cryopreserved semen obtained from test-mated Japanese Black (n = 30, including two bulls with a conception rate lower than 10%) and Holstein (n = 34) bulls were analyzed. The average sperm TUNEL index and conception rate resulting from artificial insemination (AI) were 4.7% and 55.7% for Japanese Black, and 4.9% and 39.5% for Holstein, respectively. A weak negative correlation between sperm TUNEL index and conception rate was observed in Holstein bulls (P < 0.05). Semen samples from six bulls with more than 10% sperm TUNEL index were studied, and these samples showed low sperm viability. However, semen resulting in a very low conception rate did not have a high sperm TUNEL index. Although it would be difficult to predict a low conception rate resulting from AI using the sperm TUNEL index alone, the index can be used as an additional parameter to provide a more comprehensive description of semen quality.
In this study, we examined the effects of reconstructed oocyte–granulosa cell complexes (OGCs) on the development of porcine oocytes derived from early antral follicles (EAFs; 0.5–0.7 mm in diameter). When denuded oocytes were cocultured with granulosa cells derived from other EAFs, the oocytes and granulosa cells aggregated to form OGCs after 2 days of culture. After 14 days of culture, we compared cell number, oocyte diameter, and oocyte chromatin configuration in unmanipulated (natural) OGCs, reconstructed OGCs, and OGCs collected from antral follicles (AFs, 3.0–6.0 mm in diameter). The diameters of oocytes from reconstructed OGCs grown in vitro were not different from those of oocytes from natural OGCs, although they were significantly smaller than those of oocytes from antral follicle (AF) OGCs. Oocyte chromatin configuration did not differ among the 3 OGC groups, but the oocyte nuclear maturation rate was lower in the reconstructed OGCs and higher in the AF OGCs. However, when the in vitro culture period for the reconstructed OGCs was extended by 2 days, the nuclear maturation rate of oocytes from reconstructed OGCs was similar to that of oocytes from natural OGCs. In addition, blastocysts were successfully obtained from oocytes from reconstructed OGCs. In conclusion, we established an innovative culture method that allows oocytes and granulosa cells from EAFs to reaggregate as reconstructed OGCs, which yield oocytes with the ability to develop to the blastocyst stage.
The aim of this study was to establish if pre-synchronization would enhance the number of animals cycling prior to conventional breeding at 45 days irrespective of the length of calf separation. Multiparous Bos indicus cows were allotted in four groups (n = 10). Control group (C) dams remained with their calves; groups G24, G48 and G72, which were partially weaned for 24, 48 and 72 h, respectively, were estrus synchronized using a controlled internal drug. These procedures were performed at 25 days and again at 45 days postpartum. The number of follicles, presence of a corpus luteum and back fat thickness (BFT) were determined by ultrasound. The proportion of cows with estrus and ovulation at day 25 postpartum was statistically different between the control and treated groups, with the values being 20, 60, 50 and 70 for the control, G24, G48 and G72 groups respectively (P < 0.05). At days 45 postpartum, the proportion of cows with estrus and ovulation was different in group G48 compared with the other groups (P <0.05). The average BFT and body condition score for the four experimental groups in the two periods were similar (P >0.05). Animals with a higher proportion of follicles from 17 to 21 mm, BFT values above 3.5 mm and a regular body condition were significantly different regardless of whether the dams remained with their calves or were separated, regardless of the length of this event. It can be concluded that (1) a pre-synchronization program at day 25 could trigger the onset of ovarian activity and facilitate a breeding program at day 50 and (2) temporary weaning enhances the effect of a pre-synchronization program.
Cryopreservation of boar semen is still considered suboptimal due to lower fertility as compared with fresh samples when glycerol, a permeating cryoprotectant, is used. Trehalose is a non-permeable cryoprotectant and nonreducing disaccharide known to stabilize proteins and biologic membranes. The aim of this study was to evaluate the cryosurvival and in vitro penetrability of boar spermatozoa when glycerol was replaced with trehalose in a freezing extender. Ejaculated Berkshire semen samples were diluted in egg yolk-based freezing extender containing glycerol (100 mM) or trehalose (0, 50, 100, 150, 200 and 250 mM) and cryopreserved using a straw freezing procedure. Thawed samples were analyzed for motility, viability, mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), and acrosome integrity. In experiment 2, penetrability of spermatozoa cryopreserved with 100 mM glycerol or trehalose was examined. Replacement of cryoprotectant glycerol (100 mM) with trehalose had no effect on sperm viability, but replacing it with 100 mM trehalose improved motility, MMP and acrosome integrity significantly. Sperm motility and MMP were considerably higher in 100 mM trehalose, whereas the acrosome integrity was substantially higher in 100–250 mM trehalose. The in vitro penetration rate was also significantly higher in spermatozoa cryopreserved with trehalose (61.3%) than in those cryopreserved with glycerol (43.6%). In conclusion, 100 mM non-permeable trehalose can be used to replace glycerol, a permeating cryoprotectant, for maintenance of better post-thaw quality of boar spermatozoa.
Recent studies in mice suggest that androgens are important for normal follicle development. However, there have been few reports concerning the action of androgens in the growth of oocytes from large animals. The purpose of this study was to determine the roles of androgens in bovine oocyte growth in vitro. Oocyte-granulosa cell complexes (OGCs) collected from 0.4−0.7 mm early antral follicles were cultured for 14 days with 17β-estradiol (E2) and a non-aromatizable androgen, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). We also examined the ability of an androgen receptor (AR) inhibitor, hydroxyflutamide, to antagonize the effect of androgens on the oocytes. During growth culture, the OGC structures collapsed in the medium with DHT alone, while in the presence of E2, the OGC structures were maintained. In the medium with both androgens and E2, the mean diameter of oocytes was increased from 95 μm to around 120 μm, larger than those grown with E2 alone (115 μm). Also in the maturation culture, oocytes grown with androgens (A4 or DHT) and E2 showed higher percentages of metaphase II oocytes (63% or 69%, respectively) than those grown with E2 alone (32%). Moreover, these maturation rates were decreased by hydroxyflutamide in a dose-dependent manner. Immunostaining showed that ARs were expressed in oocytes and granulosa cells in early antral follicles, and the nuclei of granulosa cells showed intense AR expression. In conclusion, although E2 supports the OGC structure, additional androgens promote oocyte growth and their acquisition of meiotic competence via AR during in vitro growth culture.
Thyroid hormones and oxidative stress play significant roles in the normal functioning of the female reproductive system. Nitric oxide (NO), a free radical synthesized by nitric oxide synthases (NOS), participates in the regulation of thyroid function and is also a good biomarker for assessment of the oxidative stress status. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate effects of thyroid hormones on uterine antioxidative status in young adult rats. Thirty immature female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into three groups: control, hypothyroid (hypo-T) and hyperthyroid (hyper-T). The results showed the body weights decreased significantly in both the hypo-T and hyper-T groups and that uterine weights were decreased significantly in the hypo-T group. The serum concentrations of total triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), as well as estradiol (E2), were significantly decreased in the hypo-T group, but increased in the hyper-T group. The progesterone (P4) concentrations in the hypo- and hyperthyroid rats markedly decreased. Immunohistochemistry results provided evidence that thyroid hormone nuclear receptor α/β (TRα/β) and three NOS isoforms were located in different cell types of rat uteri. The NO content and total NOS and inducible NOS (iNOS) activities were markedly diminished in the hypo-T group but increased in the hyper-T group. Moreover, the activities of both glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) and catalase (CAT) exhibited significant decreases and increases in the hypo-T and hyper-T groups, respectively. The malondialdehyde (MDA) contents in both the hypo-T and hyper-T groups showed a significant increase. Total superoxide dismutase (T-SOD) activity in the hypo- and hyper-T rats markedly decreased. In conclusion, these results indicated that thyroid hormones have an important influence on the modulation of uterine antioxidative status.
Corpus luteum (CL) regression is required during the estrous cycle. During CL regression, luteal cells stop producing progesterone and are degraded by apoptosis. However, the detailed mechanism of CL regression in cattle has not been fully elucidated. The aim of this study was to evaluate autophagy, lysosome activity, and apoptosis during CL regression in cattle. The expression of autophagy-related genes (LC3α, LC3β, Atg3, and Atg7) and the protein LC3-II was significantly higher in the late CL than in the mid CL. In addition, autophagy activity was significantly increased in the late CL. Moreover, gene expression of the autophagy inhibitor mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) was significantly lower in the late CL than in the mid CL. Lysosome activation and expression of cathepsin-related genes (CTSB, CTSD, and CTSZ) showed significant increases in the late CL and were associated with an increase in cathepsin B protein. In addition, mRNA expression and activity of caspase 3 (CASP3), an apoptotic enzyme, were significantly higher in the late CL than in the mid CL. These results suggest simultaneous upregulation of autophagy-related factors, lysosomal enzymes and apoptotic mediators, which are involved in regression of the bovine CL.
The fatty acid binding protein 6 (Fabp6) is commonly regarded as a bile acid binding protein found in the distal portion of the small intestine and has been shown to be important in maintaining bile acid homeostasis. Previous studies have also reported the presence of Fabp6 in human, rat and fish ovaries, but the significance of Fabp6 in this organ is largely unknown. Therefore, we surveyed murine ovaries for Fabp6 gene expression and evaluated its role in ovarian function using mice with whole body Fabp6 deficiency. Here we show that the Fabp6 gene is expressed in granulosa and luteal cells of the mouse ovary. Treatment with gonadotropins stimulated Fabp6 gene expression in large antral follicles. The ovulation rate in response to superovulatory treatment in Fabp6-deficient mice was markedly decreased compared to wildtype (C57BL/6) mice. The results of this study suggest that expression of Fabp6 gene in granulosa cells serves an important and previously unrecognized function in fertility.
Transgenic mice are important tools for genetic analysis. A current prominent method for producing transgenic mice involves pronuclear microinjection into 1-cell embryos. However, the total transgenic efficiency obtained using this method is less than 10%. Here, we demonstrate that highly efficient transgenesis in mice can be achieved by cytoplasmic microinjection using a hyperactive piggyBac system. In embryos in which hyPBase mRNA and pPB-CAG-TagRFP DNA were co-injected into the cytoplasm, TagRFP fluorescence was observed after the 2-cell stage; when 30 ng/µl pPB-CAG-TagRFP DNA and 30 ng/µl hyPBase mRNA were co-injected, 94.4% of blastocysts were TagRFP positive. Furthermore, a high concentration of hyPBase mRNA resulted in creation of mosaic embryos in which the TagRFP signals partially disappeared. However, suitable concentrations of injected DNA and hyPBase mRNA produced embryos in which almost all blastomeres were TagRFP positive. Thus, the hyperactive piggyBac transposon system is an easy-to-implement and highly effective method that can contribute to production of transgenic mice.