It should be emphasized that “129” is not simply a number but is also the designation of a mouse strain that has made a great contribution to modern biological science and technology. Embryonic stem cells derived from 129 mice were essential components of gene-targeting strategies in early research. More recently, 129 mice have provided superior donor genomes for cloning by nuclear transfer. Some factor or factors conferring genomic plasticity must exist in the 129 genome, but these remain unidentified.
In vivo, resumption of oocyte meiosis occurs in large ovarian follicles after the preovulatory surge of luteinizing hormone (LH). The LH surge leads to the activation of a broad signaling network in mural granulosa cells equipped with LH receptors. The signals generated in the mural granulosa cells are further augmented by locally produced peptides or steroids and transferred to the cumulus cell compartment and the oocyte itself. Over the last decade, essential progress has been made in the identification of molecular events associated with the final maturation and ovulation of mammalian oocytes. All new evidence argues for a multiple roles of mitogen-activated protein kinase 3/1 (MAPK3/1) in the gonadotropin-induced ovulation processes. However, the knowledge of gonadotropin-induced signaling pathways leading to MAPK3/1 activation in follicular cells seems limited. To date, only the LH-induced transactivation of the epidermal growth factor receptor/MAPK3/1 pathway has been described in granulosa/cumulus cells even though other mechanisms of MAPK3/1 activation have been detected in other types of cells. In this review, we aimed to summarize recent advances in the elucidation of gonadotropin-induced mechanisms leading to the activation of MAPK3/1 in preovulatory follicles and cultured cumulus-oocyte complexes and to point out a specific role of this kinase in the processes accompanying final maturation of the mammalian oocyte.
In mouse somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) is typically included in the nuclear donor injection medium. However, the cytotoxicity of PVP, which is injected into the cytoplasm of oocytes, has recently become a cause of concern. In the present study, we determined whether bovine serum albumin deionized with an ion-exchange resin treatment (d-BSA) was applicable to the nuclear donor injection medium in SCNT as an alternative to PVP. The results obtained showed that d-BSA introduced into the cytoplasm of an enucleated oocyte together with a donor nucleus significantly enhanced the rate of in vitro development of cloned embryos to the blastocyst stage compared with that of a conventional nuclear injection with PVP in SCNT. We also defined the enhancing effects of d-BSA on the blastocyst formation rate when d-BSA was injected into the cytoplasm of oocytes reconstructed using the fusion method with a hemagglutinating virus of Japan envelope before oocyte activation. Furthermore, immunofluorescence experiments revealed that the injected d-BSA increased the acetylation levels of histone H3 lysine 9 and histone H4 lysine 12 in cloned pronuclear (PN) and 2-cell embryos. The injection of d-BSA before oocyte activation also increased the production of cloned mouse offspring. These results suggested that intracytoplasmic injection of d-BSA into SCNT oocytes before oocyte activation was beneficial for enhancing the in vitro and in vivo development of mouse cloned embryos through epigenetic modifications to nuclear reprogramming.
During in vitro embryo production, chromosome screening is essential to prevent pregnancy losses caused by embryonic chromosome aberrations. When the chromosome screening is completed before fertilization, gametes are effectively utilized as genetic resources. The aim of this study was to investigate whether chromosome screening of gametes accompanied by fertilization would be feasible using a single mouse spermatozoon and oocyte. Metaphase II oocytes were divided into a cytoplast and a karyoplast. For genome cloning of the gametes, androgenic and gynogenic embryos were produced by microinjection of sperm into cytoplasts and parthenogenetic activation of karyoplasts, respectively. Pairs of blastomeres from androgenic and gynogenic embryos were fused electrically to produce diploid embryos, which were transferred into pseudopregnant surrogate mothers to examine fetal development. Blastomeres from androgenic and gynogenic embryos were individually treated with calyculin A—a specific inhibitor of type 1 and 2A protein phosphatases—for 2 h to induce premature chromosome condensation. Thereafter, chromosome analysis of blastomeres, reflecting the genetic constitution of individual spermatozoa and oocytes, was performed, and we confirmed that most of the androgenic and gynogenic 2-cell embryos had a haploid set of chromosomes in their sister blastomeres. The reconstructed embryos from blastomeres of androgenic and gynogenic 2-cell embryos could be implanted and develop into live fetuses, albeit at low efficiency. This study indicates that prezygotic chromosome screening and embryo production using a single pair of gametes may be practicable.
The purposes of this study were to examine the relationship between male artificial insemination (AI) fertility and sperm acrosomal conditions assessed by new and conventional staining techniques and to identify possible reproductive dysfunctions causing low conception rates in AI using frozen-thawed spermatozoa with poor acrosomal conditions in Japanese Black bulls. We investigated individual differences among bulls in the results concerning (1) acrosomal conditions of frozen-thawed spermatozoa as assessed by not merely peanut agglutinin-lectin staining (a conventional staining technique) but also immunostaining of acrosomal tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins (a new staining technique), (2) routine AI using frozen-thawed spermatozoa as assessed by pregnancy diagnosis, (3) in vivo fertilization of frozen-thawed spermatozoa and early development of fertilized eggs as assessed by superovulation/AI-embryo collection tests and (4) in vitro fertilization of frozen-thawed spermatozoa with oocytes. The percentages of frozen-thawed spermatozoa with normal acrosomal conditions assessed by the abovementioned staining techniques were significantly correlated with the conception rates of routine AI, rates of transferable embryos in superovulation/AI-embryo collection tests and in vitro fertilization rates. These results are consistent with new suggestions that the distribution of acrosomal tyrosine-phosphorylated proteins as well as the acrosomal morphology of frozen-thawed spermatozoa are AI fertility-associated markers that are valid for the prediction of AI results and that low conception rates in AI using frozen-thawed spermatozoa with poor acrosomal conditions result from reproductive dysfunctions in the processes between sperm insemination into females and early embryo development, probably failed fertilization of frozen-thawed spermatozoa with oocytes.
The aim of this study was to determine the optimum conditions for vitrifying in vitro produced day 7 porcine embryos using different vitrification devices and blastocoele collapse methods. Firstly embryos were collapsed by micro-pipetting, needle puncture and sucrose with and without conducting vitrification. In the next experiment, non-collapsed embryos were vitrified in an open device using either superfine open-pulled straws (SOPS) or the CryoLoopTM system, or vitrified in a closed device using either the CryoTipTM or Cryo BioTM’s high security vitrification system (HSV). The post-thaw survival of embryos vitrified in the open devices did not differ significantly (SOPS: 37.3%; CryoLoopTM: 37.3%) nor did the post-thaw survival of embryos vitrified in the closed devices (CryoTip™: 38.5%; HSV: 42.5%). The re-expansion rate of embryos that were collapsed via micro-pipetting (76.0%) did not differ from those that were punctured (75.0%) or collapsed via sucrose (79.6%) when vitrification was not performed. However, embryos collapsed via sucrose solutions (24.5%) and needle puncture (16.0%) prior to vitrification were significantly less likely to survive vitrification than the control (non-collapsed) embryos (53.6%, P < 0.05). The findings show that both open and closed vitrification devices were equally effective for the vitrification of porcine blastocysts. Collapsing blastocysts prior to vitrification did not improve survival, which is inconsistent with the findings of studies in other species. This may be due to the extremely sensitive nature of porcine embryos, and/or the invasiveness of the collapsing procedures.
X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) is an epigenetic process that equalizes expression of X-borne genes between male and female eutherians. This process is observed in early eutherian embryo development in a species-specific manner. Until recently, various pluripotent factors have been suggested to regulate the process of XCI by repressing XIST expression, which is the master inducer for XCI. Recent insights into the process and its regulation have been restricted in mouse species despite the evolutionary diversity of the process and molecular mechanism among the species. OCT4A is one of the represented pluripotent factors, the gate-keeper for maintaining pluripotency, and an XIST repressor. Therefore, in here, we examined the relation between OCT4A and X-linked genes in porcine preimplantation embryos. Three X-linked genes, XIST, LOC102165544, and RLIM, were selected in present study because their orthologues have been known to regulate XCI in mice. Expression levels of OCT4A were positively correlated with XIST and LOC102165544 in female blastocysts. Furthermore, overexpression of exogenous human OCT4A in cleaved parthenotes generated blastocysts with increased XIST expression levels. However, increased XIST expression was not observed when exogenous OCT4A was obtained from early blastocysts. These results suggest the possibility that OCT4A would be directly or indirectly involved in XIST expression in earlier stage porcine embryos rather than blastocysts.
Polymerase (RNA) II (DNA directed) polypeptide A (RPB1) is the largest subunit of RNA polymerase II (RNAPII), and phosphorylation of its C-terminal domain (CTD) is required for transcription initiation, elongation and RNA processing. Little is known about the CTD phosphorylation pattern and potential function during cell division when transcription is silenced. In this study, we assessed the protein expression and subcellular distribution of RPB1 during mouse oocyte meiotic division. Western blot analysis revealed that the RPB1 CTD was highly phosphorylated on Ser2 (pRPB1Ser2), Ser5 (pRPB1Ser5) and Ser7 (pRPB1Ser7). High and stable expression of pRPB1Ser2 and pRPB1Ser5 was detected from germinal vesicle (GV) to Metaphase II (MII) stage. In contrast, pRPB1Ser7 only emerged after germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD) and gradually increased to its peak level at metaphase I (MI) and MII. Immunofluorescence demonstrated that pRPB1Ser2, pRPB1Ser5 and pRPB1Ser7 were pronouncedly aggregated within the nucleus of GV oocytes with a non-surrounded nucleolus (NSN) but very faintly labeled in oocytes with a surrounded nucleolus (SN). After meiotic resumption, pRPB1Ser2 was again detected at spindle poles and co-localized with key microtubule organizing center (MTOC) components, pericentrin and γ-tubulin. pRPB1Ser5 and pRPB1Ser7 were assembled as filamentous aggregates and co-localized with microtubules throughout the spindle structure, responding to spindle-disturbing drugs, nocodazole or taxol, in pattern strongly similar to microtubules. pRPB1Ser2 and pRPB1Ser5 were constantly localized on chromosomes, with a relatively high concentration in centromere areas. Taken together, our data suggest that the CTD is highly phosphorylated and may be required for accurate chromosome segregation in mouse oocytes during meiosis.
Ganglioside is an acidic glycosphingolipid with sialic acids residues. This study was performed to investigate the effect and mechanism of ganglioside GT1b in porcine oocytes in the process of in vitro maturation (IVM) and preimplantation development. Metaphase II (MII) rates were significantly (P < 0.05) different between the control group and the 5 nM GT1b treatment group. Intracellular glutathione (GSH) levels in oocytes matured with 5 nM and 20 nM and GT1b decreased significantly (P < 0.05). The 10 nM group showed a significant (P < 0.05) decrease in intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels compared with the control group. Subsequently, the level of intracellular Ca2+ in oocytes treated with different concentrations of GT1b was measured. Intracellular Ca2+ was significantly (P < 0.05) increased with a higher concentration of GT1b in a dose-dependent manner. Real-time PCR was performed and showed that the expression of bradykinin 2 receptor (B2R) and calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II delta (CaMKIIδ) in cumulus cells was significantly (P < 0.05) decreased in the 20 nM GT1b treatment group. Treatment with 5 nM GT1b significantly (P < 0.05) decreased the expression of CaMKIIδ. In oocytes, treatment with 5 nM GT1b significantly (P < 0.05) decreased CaMKIIγ and POU5F1 (POU domain, class 5, transcription factor 1). However, treatment with 20 nM GT1b significantly (P < 0.05) increased the expression of POU5F1. Finally, embryonic developmental data showed no significant differences in the two experiments (parthenogenesis and in vitro fertilization). In conclusion, the results of the present study indicated that GT1b plays an important role in increasing the nuclear maturation rate and decreasing the intracellular ROS levels during IVM. However, GT1b inhibited maturation of the cytoplasm by maintaining intracellular Ca2+ in the process of oocyte maturation regardless of the cell cycle stage. Therefore, GT1b is thought to act on another mechanism that controls intracellular Ca2+.
Nlrp9a, Nlrp9b and Nlrp9c are preferentially expressed in oocytes and early embryos in the mouse. Simultaneous genetic ablation of Nlrp9a and Nlrp9c does not affect early embryonic development, but the function of Nlrp9b in the process of oocyte maturation and embryonic development has not been elucidated. Here we show that both Nlrp9b mRNA and its protein are expressed in ovaries and the small intestine. Moreover, the NLRP9B protein was restricted to oocytes in the ovary and declined with oocyte aging. After ovulation and fertilization, NLRP9B protein was found in preimplantation embryos. Confocal microscopy demonstrated that it was mainly localized in the cytoplasm in the oocytes and blastomeres. Thus, this protein might play a role in oocyte maturation and early embryonic development. However, knockdown of Nlrp9b expression in GV-stage oocytes using RNA interference did not affect oocyte maturation or subsequent parthenogenetic development after Nlrp9b-deficient oocytes were activated. Furthermore, Nlrp9b knockdown zygotes could reach the blastocyst stage after being cultured for 3.5 days in vitro. These results provide the first evidence that the NLRP9B protein is dispensable for oocyte maturation and early embryonic development in the mouse.
The objective of this study was to examine the effects of metritis and subclinical hypocalcemia on reduction of uterine size in dairy cows using ultrasonography and sonomicrometry. Four piezoelectric crystals were implanted via laparotomy into the myometrium of the pregnant uterine horn of 12 pluriparous Holstein Friesian cows 3 weeks before the calculated calving date. Sonometric measurements were conducted daily from 2 days before parturition (= Day 0) until Day 14 after calving and then every other day until Day 28. Distances between adjacent crystals were expressed in relation to reference values obtained before calving. The diameter of the formerly pregnant uterine horn was measured using transrectal B-Mode sonography starting on Day 10. Cows were retrospectively divided into the following groups: cows without metritis (M–; n = 7), cows with metritis (M+; n = 5), cows with normocalcemia (SH–; Ca > 2.0 mmol/l on Days 1 to 3; n = 5) and cows with subclinical hypocalcemia (SH+; Ca < 2.0 mmol/l in at least one sample between Days 1 and 3; n = 7). Metritis did not affect (P > 0.05) sonometric measurements, but the diameter of the formerly pregnant horn was larger (P ≤ 0.05) between Days 15 and 21 in M+ cows than in M‒ cows. Reduction in uterine length in hypocalcemic cows was delayed (P ≤ 0.05) between Days 8 and 21 compared with normocalcemic cows, but the uterine horn diameter was not related to calcium status. In conclusion, both diseases affected reduction of uterine size until Day 28. Cows with metritis had a larger uterine diameter, possibly attributable to accumulation of lochia, and cows with subclinical hypocalcemia had delayed reduction of uterine length, presumably related to reduction of myometrial contractility.
Our aim was to optimize the cryoprotectant treatment for the preservation of immature porcine cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) by solid surface vitrification. In each experiment, the vitrification solution consisted of 50 mg/ml polyvinyl pyrrolidone, 0.3 M of the actual sugar and in total 35% (v/v) of the actual permeating cryoprotectant (pCPA) combination. After warming, the COCs were subjected to in vitro maturation, fertilization and embryo culture. In Experiment 1, trehalose and sucrose were equally effective during vitrification and warming in terms of facilitating oocyte survival and subsequent embryo development. In Experiment 2, when equilibration was performed at 38.5 C in a total of 4% (v/v) pCPA for 15 min, the combination of ethylene glycol and propylene glycol (EG + PG = 1:1) was superior to EG and dimethyl sulfoxide (EG + DMSO = 1:1) in terms of oocyte survival after vitrification and the quality of resultant blastocysts. In Experiment 3, equilibration in 4% (v/v) pCPA for 15 min before vitrification was superior to that in 15% (v/v) CPA for 5 min for achievement of high survival rates irrespective of the pCPA combination used. In Experiment 4, when equilibration was performed in 4% EG + PG for 5 min, 15 min or 25 min, there was no difference in oocyte survival and subsequent embryo development after vitrification and warming; however, the developmental competence of cleaved embryos was tendentiously reduced when equilibration was performed for 25 min. In conclusion, trehalose and sucrose were equally effective in facilitating vitrification, and the optimum pCPA treatment was 5–15 min equilibration in 4% (v/v) of EG + PG followed by vitrification in 35% (v/v) EG + PG.
The development of germ cells has not been entirely documented in the cat especially the transition phase of the gonocyte to the spermatogonial stem cell (G/SSC). The aims of study were to examine testicular development and to identify the G/SSC transition in order to isolate and culture SSCs in vitro. Testes were divided into 3 groups according to donor age (I, < 4 months; II, 4–6 months; and III, > 6 months). In Exp. 1, we studied testicular development by histology, transmission electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry. In Exp. 2, we determined the expression of GFRα-1, DDX-4 and c-kit and performed flow cytometry. The SSCs isolated from groups II and III were characterized by RT-PCR and TEM (Exp. 3). Chronological changes in the G/SSC transition were demonstrated. The size, morphology and ultrastructure of SSCs were distinguishable from those of gonocytes. The results demonstrated that group II contained the highest numbers of SSCs per seminiferous cord/tubule (17.66 ± 2.20%) and GFRα-1+ cells (14.89 ± 5.66%) compared with the other groups. The findings coincided with an increased efficiency of SSC derivation in group II compared with group III (74.33 ± 2.64% vs. 23.33 ± 2.23%). The colonies expressed mRNA for GFRA1, ZBTB16, RET and POU5F1. Our study found that the G/SSC transition occurs at 4–6 months of age. This period is useful for isolation and improves the establishment efficiency of cat SSCs in vitro.
The generation efficiencies of mutation-induced mice when using engineered zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs) have been generally 10 to 20% of obtained pups in previous studies. The discovery of high-affinity DNA-binding modules can contribute to the generation of various kinds of novel artificial chromatin-targeting tools, such as zinc-finger acetyltransferases, zinc-finger histone kinases and so on, as well as improvement of reported zinc-finger recombinases and zinc-finger methyltransferases. Here, we report a novel ZFN pair that has a highly efficient mutation-induction ability in murine zygotes. The ZFN pair induced mutations in all obtained mice in the target locus, exon 17 of aminopeptidase Q gene, and almost all of the pups had biallelic mutations. This high efficiency was also shown in the plasmid DNA transfected in a cultured human cell line. The induced mutations were inherited normally in the next generation. The zinc-finger modules of this ZFN pair are expected to contribute to the development of novel ZF-attached chromatin-targeting tools.
The presence of multinucleated blastomeres (MNBs) in embryos is associated with poor developmental competence in assisted reproductive technologies. This phenomenon is observed not only in humans but also in other animal species. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the characteristics of embryos with MNBs (MNB embryos) that could be utilized in embryo transfer. The developmental rate of MNB embryos to the blastocyst stage (50.8%) was significantly lower than that of normal embryos (73.3%) (P < 0.05). The clinical pregnancy rates of fresh embryo transfer (ET) using day 2 or day 3 embryos were significantly lower in MNB embryos (5.1%) compared with normal embryos (24.0%) (P < 0.05). In the case of frozen-thawed ET using a single vitrified/warmed blastocyst, however, the clinical pregnancy rate of MNB embryos was close to that of normal embryos (59.1% vs. 52.8%). Thus, the findings of the present study suggest that the frozen-thawed ET of MNB embryos might improve the potential for implantation followed by successful pregnancy.
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