The oviduct plays a role in successful animal reproduction not only in spermatozoa and ova transport to the fertilization site but also by affording a microenvironment for fertilization and early embryonic development. The sperm reservoir (SR) is restricted in the uterotubal junction (UTJ) and caudal isthmus. Billions of porcine spermatozoa are distributed to the female reproductive tract during/after insemination, and small amounts of them are stored for about 36–40 hours in the SR, which maintains sperm viability in the pre-ovulation period through its surface epithelium and production of fluid. The SR regulates the release of spermatozoa so that only a small population moves towards the fertilization site (ampulla) to decrease polyspermy. This review attempts to provide information about the structure and function of the porcine SR, its intraluminal content (hyaluronan, HA), and the influences of HA on porcine spermatozoa in vivo. In pigs, the spermatozoa are stored in a mucous-like fluid within the UTJ and caudal isthmus in the pre-ovulation period. The oviduct fluid contains sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) and non-sulfated GAGs, i.e., HA. It is interesting to note that HA is synthesized by hyaluronan synthase-3 (HAS-3), and its receptor, CD44, is found in the epithelium of the porcine SR site. Additionally, sperm capacitation does not occur in vivo in the SR during the pre- and peri-ovulation periods, but spermatozoa in the SR will attempt to capacitate if exposed to bicarbonate. However, capacitation in the SR will rise in the post-ovulation period, indicating the role of HA in modulating sperm capacitation after ovulation. All data support the understanding that the porcine SR ensures the viability of fertile spermatozoa and maintains the non-capacitated status during the pre-ovulation period. This basic knowledge about the SR is believed to be useful to advance sperm preparation procedures for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and improve the preservation process of porcine semen.
Mitochondrial numbers increase during oocyte growth. In this study, we collected oocytes and granulosa cell complexes (OGCs) from early antral follicles (EAFs) of aged cows (> 120 months of age) and examined the effects of resveratrol on mitochondrial generation, degradation, and quality in oocytes grown in vitro. We also examined the effects of resveratrol on gene expression of the granulosa cells. Resveratrol (20 µM) enhanced the expression of SIRT1 and induced autophagy in both granulosa cells and oocytes derived from aged cows. Culturing the OGCs with resveratrol increased mitochondrial DNA copy numbers in oocytes grown in vitro. Furthermore, resveratrol increased the ATP content in oocytes and improved the developmental ability of the oocytes to the blastocyst stage. Gene expression profiles in granulosa cells, as evaluated by next-generation sequencing technology, revealed that resveratrol enhanced the expression of EIF2-related genes but downregulated the expression of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)-, inflammation-, and cholesterol homeostasis-related genes in granulosa cells. In conclusion, resveratrol affected both oocytes and granulosa cells derived from aged cows and improved the quality of oocytes grown in vitro through upregulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and degradation in growing oocytes and conditioning of granulosa cells.
Cathepsin B, a lysosomal cysteine protease of the papain family, has recently been implicated in the quality and developmental competence of bovine preimplantation embryos. In this study, to determine whether inhibition of cathepsin B activity can improve porcine oocyte maturation and early embryo developmental competence, we supplemented in vitro maturation or embryo culture media with E-64, a cathepsin B inhibitor. Cathepsin B activity was high in poor quality germinal vesicle stage oocytes, but no differences in mRNA expression or protein localization were observed between good and poor quality oocytes, which were categorized based on morphology. Following treatment with 1 μM E-64, cathepsin B activity sharply decreased in 4-cell and blastocyst stage embryos. E-64 had no effect on cell number but significantly (P < 0.05) increased blastocyst formation and decreased the number of apoptotic cells in blastocysts. It also significantly (P < 0.05) enhanced mitochondrial membrane potential in blastocysts, reducing the release of cytochrome c and resulting in decreased expression of Caspase-3 and Caspase-9. In conclusion, inhibition of cathepsin B activity in porcine parthenotes using 1 μM E-64 resulted in attenuation of apoptosis via a reduction in the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria.
This study examined the influence of EGF on the expression of EGF receptors (EGFR) and developmental competence of embryos cultured individually versus those cultured in groups. Cat oocytes were in vitro matured and fertilized (IVM/IVF), and cleaved embryos were randomly assigned to one of seven culture conditions: one group each in which embryos were subjected to group culture supplemented with or without 5 ng/ml EGF and five groups in which embryos were subjected to single-embryo culture supplemented with EGF (0, 5, 25, 50 or 100 ng/ml). Morulae, blastocysts and hatching blastocysts were assessed at days 5 and 7; post IVF, respectively, and total blastocyst cell numbers were assessed at day 7. Relative mRNA expressions of EGFR of 2–4-cell embryos, 8–16-cell embryos, morulae and blastocysts cultured in groups or singly with or without EGF supplementation were examined. OCT3/4 and Ki67 in blastocysts derived from the group or single-embryo culture systems with or without EGF supplementation were localized. A higher rate of embryos cultured in groups developed to blastocysts than individually incubated cohorts. Although EGF increased blastocyst formation in the single-embryo culture system, EGF did not affect embryo development in group culture. Expression levels of EGFR decreased in morulae and blastocysts cultured with EGF. An increased ratio of Ki67-positive cells to the total number of cells in the blastocyst was observed in singly cultured embryos in the presence of EGF. However, EGF did not affect the expression of OCT3/4. These findings indicate that EGF enhanced developmental competence of cat embryos cultured singly by stimulating cell proliferation and modulating the EGFR expression at various developmental stages.
We recently demonstrated that luteal cells flow out from the ovary via lymphatic vessels during luteolysis. However, the regulatory mechanisms of the outflow of luteal cells are not known. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) can degrade the extracellular matrix and basal membrane, and tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases (TIMPs) inhibit the activity of MMPs. To test the hypothesis that MMP expression in luteal cells is regulated by luteolytic factors, we investigated the effects of prostaglandin F2α (PGF), interferon γ (IFNG) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF) on the mRNA expression of MMPs and TIMPs in cultured luteal cells. Luteal cells obtained from the CL at the mid-luteal stage (days 8–12 after ovulation) were cultured with PGF (0.01, 0.1, 1 μM), IFNG (0.05, 0.5, 5 nM) and TNF (0.05, 0.5, 0.5 nM) alone or in combination for 24 h. PGF and IFNG significantly increased the expression of MMP-1 mRNA. In addition, 1 μM PGF in combination with 5 nM IFNG stimulated MMP-1 and MMP-9 mRNA expression significantly more than either treatment alone. In contrast, IFNG significantly decreased the level of MMP-14 mRNA. The mRNA expression of TIMP-1, which preferentially inhibits MMP-1, was suppressed by 5 nM INFG. One μM PGF and 5 nM IFNG suppressed TIMP-2 mRNA expression. These results suggest a new role of MMPs: luteal MMPs stimulated by PGF and IFNG break down the extracellular matrix surrounding luteal cells, which accelerates detachment from the CL during luteolysis, providing an essential prerequisite for outflow of luteal cells from the CL to lymphatic vessels.
Hamster sperm hyperactivation is enhanced by progesterone, and this progesterone-enhanced hyperactivation is suppressed by 17β-estradiol (17βE2) and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Although it has been indicated that melatonin also enhances hyperactivation, it is unknown whether melatonin-enhanced hyperactivation is also suppressed by 17βE2 and GABA. In the present study, melatonin-enhanced hyperactivation was significantly suppressed by 17βE2 but not by GABA. Moreover, suppression of melatonin-enhanced hyperactivation by 17βE2 occurred through non-genomic regulation via the estrogen receptor (ER). These results suggest that enhancement of hyperactivation is regulated by melatonin and 17βE2 through non-genomic regulation.
Heat stress compromises fertility during summer in dairy and beef cows by causing nutritional, physiological and reproductive damages. To examine the difference in endometrial conditions in cows between summer and autumn, gene expression profiles were compared using a 15 K bovine oligo DNA microarray. The trial was conducted in the summer (early in September) and autumn (mid-November) seasons of two consecutive years (2013–2014) in Morioka, Japan. Endometrial samples were collected from the cows using a biopsy technique. The expressions of 268 genes were significantly higher in the endometrium collected in summer than those collected in autumn, whereas the expressions of 369 genes were lower (P<0.05 or lower). Messenger RNA expressions of glycoprotein 2 (GP2), neurotensin (NTS),E-cadherin (CDH1) and heat shock 105kDa/110kDa protein 1 (HSPH1) were validated by quantitative real-time PCR. Transcripts of GP2 and NTS were more abundant in the endometrium from summer than in the endometrium from autumn (P < 0.05). In contrast, the mRNA expressions of CDH1 were lower (P < 0.05) and those of HSPH1 tended to be low (P = 0.09) in the endometrium from summer. Immunohistochemical staining showed that GP2, NTS and HSPH1 were expressed in the endometrial epithelial or glandular epithelial cells. The serum concentrations of NTS collected from the cows in summer were higher than those collected from cows in autumn (P < 0.05). Collectively, the different gene expression profiles may contribute to functional differences in the endometrium between summer and autumn, and the increases in GP2 and NTS may have a relationship with the endometrial deficiency that causes infertility of cows in summer.
Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) undergo self-renewal divisions to provide the foundation for spermatogenesis. Although Rb1 deficiency is reportedly essential for SSC self-renewal, its mechanism has remained unknown. Here we report that Rb1 is critical for cell cycle progression and protection of SSCs from DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs). Cultured SSCs depleted of Cdkn1b proliferated poorly and showed diminished expression of CDK4 and RB1, thereby leading to hypophosphorylation of RB1. Rb1 deficiency induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in cultured SSCs, which expressed markers for DNA DSBs. This DNA damage is caused by increased E2F1 activity, the depletion of which decreased DNA DSBs caused by Rb1 deficiency. Depletion of Cdkn1a and Bbc3, which were upregulated by Trp53, rescued Rb1-deficient cells from undergoing cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. These results suggest that the CDKN1B-RB1-E2F1 pathway is essential for SSC self-renewal and protects SSCs against genomic damage.
The objective of our study was to compare the characteristics of the corpus luteum (CL) formed after ovulation of the dominant follicle (DF) of the first follicular wave (W1) and those of the CL formed after ovulation of the DF of the second (induced) follicular wave (W2). Non-lactating Holstein cows were used for this study. In Experiment 1, cows were treated with PGF2α and GnRH on days 6 and 8 (day 0 = day of follicular wave emergence) for W1 (n = 6) and W2 (n = 6), respectively. Dominant follicles were aspirated on day 9 to quantify the amounts of mRNA (VEGF120, VEGF164, FGF-2, StAR, P450-scc and 3β-HSD) in granulosa cells (GC). In Experiment 2, the size and blood flow area of the CL formed after ovulation of the DF in W1 (W1CL; n = 6) and W2 (W2CL; n = 6) (the day of DF ovulation in W1 and W2 was day 10) were evaluated on days 12, 15, 18 and 21. The plasma P4 concentration was measured on days 10 to 21. The amounts of VEGF164, P450-scc and 3β-HSD mRNA were higher (P < 0.05) in the DF in W1, and those of VEGF120,FGF-2 and StAR mRNA tended to be higher (P < 0.1) in the DF in W1. The size of the CL was greater in the W1CL on days 15, 18 and 21. The blood flow area of the CL was greater in the W1CL on days 12 and 15. The plasma P4 concentrations were higher in the W1CL. These results indicate that the CL formed after ovulation of the DF in W1 was greater in terms of size, blood flow and plasma P4 concentration.
We found retardation of preimplantation embryo growth after exposure to maternal restraint stress during the preimplantation period in our previous study. In the present study, we evaluated the impact of preimplantation maternal restraint stress on the distribution of inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm (TE) cells in mouse blastocysts, and its possible effect on physiological development of offspring. We exposed spontaneously ovulating female mice to restraint stress for 30 min three times a day during the preimplantation period, and this treatment caused a significant increase in blood serum corticosterone concentration. Microscopic evaluation of embryos showed that restraint stress significantly decreased cell counts per blastocyst. Comparing the effect of restraint stress on the two blastocyst cell lineages, we found that the reduction in TE cells was more substantial than the reduction in ICM cells, which resulted in an increased ICM/TE ratio in blastocysts isolated from stressed dams compared with controls. Restraint stress reduced the number of implantation sites in uteri, significantly delayed eye opening in delivered mice, and altered their behavior in terms of two parameters (scratching on the base of an open field test apparatus, time spent in central zone) as well. Moreover, prenatally stressed offspring had significantly lower body weights and in 5-week old females delivered from stressed dams, fat deposits were significantly lower. Our results indicate that exposure to stress during very early pregnancy can have a negative impact on embryonic development with consequences reaching into postnatal life.
In order to develop excellent germplasm resources for giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus), cryopreservation of giant grouper sperm was examined in the present study. Firstly, 13 kinds of sperm dilution (ELS1-3, EM1-2, TS-2, MPRS, ELRS0-6) were prepared with physiological salt, sucrose, glucose and fetal bovine serum. The physiological parameters of ELRS3 (ratio of fast motion, ratio of slow motion, time of fast motion, time of slow motion, lifespan and motility) and ELS3 (sperm ratio of slow motion, time of slow motion and motility) were significantly higher than those of the other dilutions (P < 0.05). Secondly, after adding 15% DMSO and 10% FBS to ELRS3 and ELS3, most physiological parameters of frozen sperm were also significantly higher than the other gradients (P < 0.05), and sperm motility was as high as 63.68 ± 4.16% to74.75 ± 12.71% (fresh sperm motility, 80.70 ± 1.37% to 80.71 ± 1.49%). Mixed with the above dilutions, a final volume of 105 ml semen was cryopreserved. Finally, the sperm of giant grouper cryopreserved with cryoprotectants (ELRS3 + 15% DMSO + 10% FBS) was used for electron-microscopic observation and crossbreeding with red-spotted groupers (Epinephelus akaara). The electron-microscopic observation revealed that part of the frozen-thawed sperm was cryodamaged, e.g., flagellum fracturing and mitochondria falling out, while the ultrastructure of sperm membrane, mitochondria and flagellum remained intact. Also, the fertilization and hatchability rates of giant grouper frozen sperm and red-spotted grouper eggs were as high as 94.56% and 75.56%, respectively. Thus, a technique for cryopreservation of giant grouper sperm was successfully developed and applied to crossbreeding with red-spotted grouper eggs.
Glucose has been recognized as an energy source for a long time, but it has recently been suggested that the hexosamine biosynthesis pathway (HBP) and downstream protein O-GlcNAcylation have important functions in mouse preimplantation development. Thus, whether or not O-GlcNAcylation was present and what functions O-GlcNAcylation has in pig preimplantation development were investigated in the present study. The expressions of mRNA of glutaminefructose-6-phosphate aminotransferase (Gfpt), O-GlcNAc transferase (Ogt) and O-GlcNAcase (Oga), which are involved in the HBP and O-GlcNAc cycling, were examined in pig parthenogenetic diploids at each preimplantation developmental stage. Gfpt and Ogt were detected in diploids at all stages. Though Oga was detected at all stages except the 4-cell stage, OGA proteins were detected in diploids from the 2-cell to blastocyst stage. Furthermore, O-GlcNAcylated proteins in MII oocytes and diploids were also detected by immunofluorescence at every stage. Inhibition of OGT by 4.0 mM BADGP did not affect development up to the blastocyst stage, while inhibition of OGA by 300 µM PUGNAc decreased the proportion of diploids beyond the 4-cell stage. Four-cell diploids cultured with PUGNAc until 48 h developed to the blastocyst stage after culture in a PUGNAc-free medium until 144 h after electrostimulation. RNA polymerase II (Pol II) phosphorylation, which indicates the onset of mRNA transcription, was detected in nuclei of diploids in the control group at 48 h but not in the PUGNAc-treated group. These results indicate that HBP and O-GlcNAcylation have important functions in pig preimplantation development and that inhibition of OGA is fatal for development. It is also suggested that OGA inhibition disrupts normal Pol II regulation and may cause a zygotic gene activation error.
The present study aimed to determine estrogen feedback action sites to mediate prepubertal restraint of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)/luteinizing hormone (LH) release in female rats. Wistar-Imamichi strain rats were ovariectomized (OVX) and received a local estradiol-17β (estradiol) or cholesterol microimplant in several brain areas, such as the medial preoptic area (mPOA), paraventricular nucleus, ventromedial nucleus and arcuate nucleus (ARC), at 20 or 35 days of age. Six days after receiving the estradiol microimplant, animals were bled to detect LH pulses at 26 or 41 days of age, representing the pre- or postpubertal period, respectively. Estradiol microimplants in the mPOA or ARC, but not in other brain regions, suppressed LH pulses in prepubertal OVX rats. Apparent LH pulses were found in the postpubertal period in all animals bearing estradiol or cholesterol implants. It is unlikely that pubertal changes in responsiveness to estrogen are due to a change in estrogen receptor (ER) expression, because the number of ERα-immunoreactive cells and mRNA levels of Esr1, Esr2 and Gpr30 in the mPOA and ARC were comparable between the pre- and postpubertal periods. In addition, kisspeptin or GnRH injection overrode estradiol-dependent prepubertal LH suppression, suggesting that estrogen inhibits the kisspeptin-GnRH cascade during the prepubertal period. Thus, estrogen-responsive neurons located in the mPOA and ARC may play key roles in estrogen-dependent prepubertal restraint of GnRH/LH secretion in female rats.