The development of an effective program that combines in vitro maturation (IVM) and cryopreservation for immature oocytes would represent a novel advance for in vitro fertilization (IVF), especially as a means to preserve the fertility of women in unique situations. The aim of this study was to analyze the ultrastructural characteristics of human oocytes, obtained after controlled ovarian stimulation, to determine whether IVM is best performed before or after vitrification. To this end, we analyzed the following features in a total of 22 MII oocytes: size, zona pellucida and perivitelline space, mitochondria number, M-SER (mitochondria-smooth endoplasmic reticulum) aggregates and M-V (mitochondria-vesicle) complexes, the number of cortical granules and microvilli, and the presence of vacuolization using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Each oocyte presented a rounded shape, with an intact oolemma, and was surrounded by a continuous zona pellucida and perivitelline space. Statistical analysis comparing oocytes vitrified before or after IVM indicated that there were no significant differences between examined characteristics.
LSM family member 14 (LSM14) belongs to the RNA-associated protein (RAP) family that is widely expressed in different species, and whose functions include associating and storing mRNAs. In the present study, we found that LSM14b was essential for oocyte meiotic maturation. Lack of LSM14b caused oocyte meiotic arrest at metaphase, and misalignment of chromosomes, as well as abnormal spindle assembly checkpoint (SAC) and maturation promoting factor (MPF) activation. Cyclin B1 and Cdc20 mRNAs, whose contents changed with LSM14b expression, were likely direct targets of LSM14b. We conclude that LSM14b, by functioning as a container of mRNAs, controls protein expression, and thus regulates the oocyte meiotic maturation process.
In asymmetric chick gonads, the left and right female gonads undergo distinct programs during development, generating a functional ovary on the left side only. Despite some progress being made in recent years, the mechanisms of molecular regulation remain incompletely understood, and little genomic information is available regarding the degeneration of the right ovary in the chick embryo testis. In this study, we performed transcriptome sequencing to investigate differentially expressed genes in the left and right ovaries and gene functions at two critical time points; embryonic days 6 (E6) and 10 (E10). Using high-throughput RNA-sequencing technologies, 539 and 1046 genes were identified as being significantly differentially expressed between 6R-VS-6L and 10R-VS-10L. Gene ontology analysis of the differentially expressed genes revealed enrichment in functional pathways. Among these, candidate genes associated with degeneration of the right ovary in the chick embryo were identified. Identification of a pathway involved in ovarian degeneration provides an important resource for the further study of its molecular mechanisms and functions.
In mouse ovaries, the first wave of folliculogenesis perinatally starts near the medullary region, which directs the initial round of follicular growth soon after birth. At the same time, cortical primordial follicles start forming in the ovarian surface region, and then some are cyclically recruited for the second and subsequent rounds of follicular growth. Recent studies suggest different dynamics between the first and subsequent waves of follicular growth in postnatal ovaries. However, the phenotypic differences between these phases remain unclear. Here, we show direct evidence that XO female mice, a murine model for Turner Syndrome, lack the first wave of folliculogenesis. Our histopathological analyses of XX and XO littermates revealed a lack of anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH)-positive primary follicles in the XO ovaries by 4 days post partum (dpp). This loss of first follicles was also confirmed by histological bioassay for SRY-dependent SOX9 inducibility, a specific marker for the first follicular granulosa cells. In contrast, cortical primordial follicles formed properly in XO ovaries, and some of them formed primary and secondary follicles in the subcortical region by 7 dpp. They rapidly developed into late antral follicles, showing similarities to XX littermate ovaries by 21 dpp. These results suggest distinct X-monosomy effects between the first and subsequent waves of follicular growth, highlighting the high susceptibility to elimination of XO oocytes in the first wave of mammalian folliculogenesis.
During mammary gland involution, the epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) process plays an important role in tissue remodelling and in the termination of milk production. Transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) has been known as a central inducer to EMT and contributor to the mammary gland involution. However, the whole mechanism has accomplished the EMT process in mammary gland is still unclear. Here, we show that arachidonic acid, one of the major products in milk, is new player to control the EMT together with TGFβ during mammary gland involution. Firstly, we observed decrease in CDH1 (epithelial marker gene) expression and increases in VIM and TWIST1 (mesenchymal marker genes), TGFB1, and PLCG2 (arachidonic acid synthesis gene) at involution. In epithelial cells culture experiments, depletion of lactogenic hormones to mimic the involution induced TGFβ1 and PLCG2 expressions. Treatment with arachidonic acid in epithelial cells increased VIM and TWIST1 expressions without decrease of CDH1 expression, while TGFβ1 decreased CDH1 and increased VIM and TWIST1; more importantly, TGFβ1 induced the expression of PLCG2, but arachidonic acid did not induce the expression of TGFB1. Finally, arachidonic acid accelerated the TGFβ1 increasing VIM and TWIST1 expressions, meanwhile arachidonic acid synthase inhibitor partially blocked the TGFβ1 increasing VIM and TWIST1 expressions. In conclusion, TGFβ1 stimulates arachidonic acid synthesis and the arachidonic acid has a function to postulate the EMT process together with TGFβ1 during mammary gland involution.
Well-organized mitochondrial functions and dynamics are critical for early embryonic development and are operated via a large number of mitochondria-related genes (MtGs) encoded by both the nuclear and the mitochondrial genome. However, the mechanisms underlying mitochondrial modifications during the critical window between blastocyst implantation and postimplantation organogenesis are poorly understood. Herein, we performed high-resolution dynamic profiling of MtGs to acquire a more detailed understanding of mitochondrial modifications during early development. Our data suggest that the resumption of mitochondrial mass growth is not only facilitated by increased mitochondrial biogenesis and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) replication, but also by the appropriate balance between mitochondrial fission and fusion. In addition, increased levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) resulting from enhanced mitochondrial functions may be the critical inducer for activating the glutathione (GSH)-based stress response system in early embryos. The appropriate balance between the mitochondrial stress response and apoptosis appears to be significant for cell differentiation and early organogenesis. Furthermore, we found that most MtGs undergo de novo promoter methylation, which may have functional consequences on mitochondrial functions and dynamics during early development. We also report that mtDNA methylation can be observed as early as soon after implantation. DNMT1, the predominant enzyme for maintaining DNA methylation, localized to the mitochondria and bound to mtDNA by the implantation stage. Our study provides a new insight into the involvement of mitochondria in early mammalian embryogenesis. We also propose that the epigenetic modifications during early development are significant for modulating mitochondrial functions and dynamics.
Casein kinase 2 (CK2) is a highly conserved, ubiquitously expressed serine/threonine protein kinase with hundreds of substrates. The role of CK2 in the G2/M transition of oocytes, zygotes, and 2-cell embryos was studied in mouse by enzyme activity inhibition using the specific inhibitor 4, 5, 6, 7-tetrabromobenzotriazole (TBB). Zygotes and 2-cell embryos were arrested at G2 phase by TBB treatment, and DNA damage was increased in the female pronucleus of arrested zygotes. Further developmental ability of arrested zygotes was reduced, but that of arrested 2-cell embryos was not affected after releasing from inhibition. By contrast, the G2/M transition in oocytes was not affected by TBB. These results indicate that CK2 activity is essential for mitotic G2/M transition in early embryos but not for meiotic G2/M transition in oocytes.
This study aimed to examine the response of luteinizing hormone (LH) secretion and ovarian steroid profile to TAK-683, an investigational metastin/kisspeptin analog, through treatment during different stages of the luteal phase in goats. Nine cycling Shiba goats (4.4 ± 2.3 years old) were assigned to early luteal phase (ELP, n = 4), mid-luteal phase (MLP, n = 4), and control (n = 5) groups. The ELP and MLP groups were administered 50 µg of TAK-683 intravenously on either day 5 or between days 7–14 after ovulation, respectively. The control group received vehicle between days 7–14 after ovulation. Blood samples were collected at 10-min (2–6 h), 2-h (6–24 h), and 24-h (24–96 h) intervals after treatment. Significant increases in plasma LH concentration were detected during the periods of 3 to 5 h and 2 to 5 h in the ELP and MLP groups, respectively. Estradiol concentrations continuously increased with the rise of basal LH secretion after TAK-683 treatment in two goats of the ELP group with a surge-like release of LH, but not in the goats without LH surge, i.e. the MLP and control group ones. Plasma progesterone concentration and the lengths of estrous cycle in all groups did not change significantly from the time before and after treatment. Present findings indicate that the responses of LH and ovarian steroids to treatment with TAK-683 depend on the stage of the luteal phase of the estrous cycle. We suggest that the stimulatory effects of TAK-683 on LH secretion are reduced in the process leading to the mid-luteal phase in cycling goats.
The present study aimed to evaluate hormonal responses and their association with the TAK-683 blood concentrations in goats administered TAK-683 at a low dose, which had been previously determined as the minimally effective dose for luteinizing hormone (LH) stimulation in ovariectomized goats. In Experiment 1, 5 µg of TAK-683 treatment had no significant stimulatory effect on LH secretion in ovariectomized Shiba goats (n = 4). In Experiment 2, cycling goats received the treatment of prostaglandin F2α and progesterone-releasing controlled internal drug releasing (CIDR) to induce the follicular phase, then they were treated with 5 µg of TAK-683 (hour 0) intravenously (n = 4, IV) or subcutaneously (n = 3, SC) or with vehicle intravenously (n = 4, control) at 12 h after CIDR removal. Blood samples were collected at 10-min (–2–6 h), 2-h (6–24 h), or 6-h (24–48 h) intervals. Ovarian ultrasonographic images were assessed daily to confirm ovulation after the treatment. A surge-like release of LH was immediately observed after injection in all animals in the IV (peak time: 4.2 ± 0.6 h, peak concentration: 73.3 ± 27.5 ng/ml) and SC (peak time: 4.6 ± 0.4 h, peak concentration: 62.6 ± 23.2 ng/ml) groups, but not in the control group. Ovulation was detected within 3 days after TAK-683 injection in all animals in the IV and SC groups, and the interval period from TAK-683 administration to ovulation in the IV group was significantly (P < 0.05) shorter than that of the control group. No significant changes were observed between the IV and SC groups in terms of luteal diameter and blood progesterone levels after ovulation. The present findings suggest that the involvement of one or more ovarian factor(s) is indispensable for a TAK-683-induced LH surge leading to ovulation in goats.
The cellular conditions required to establish induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), such as the number of reprogramming factors and/or promoter selection, differ among species. The establishment of iPSCs derived from cells of previously unstudied species therefore requires the extensive optimization of programming conditions, including promoter selection and the optimal number of reprogramming factors, through a trial-and-error approach. While the four Yamanaka factors Oct3/4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc are sufficient for iPSC establishment in mice, we reported previously that six reprogramming factors were necessary for the creation of iPSCs from primary prairie vole-derived cells. Further to this study, we now show detailed data describing the optimization protocol we developed in order to obtain iPSCs from immortalized prairie vole-derived fibroblasts. Immortalized cells can be very useful tools in the optimization of cellular reprogramming conditions, as cellular senescence is known to dramatically decrease the efficiency of iPSC establishment. The immortalized prairie vole cells used in this optimization were designated K4DT cells as they contained mutant forms of CDK4, cyclin D, and telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT). We show that iPSCs derived from these immortalized cells exhibit the transcriptional silencing of exogenous reprogramming factors while maintaining pluripotent cell morphology. There were no observed differences between the iPSCs derived from primary and immortalized prairie vole fibroblasts. Our data suggest that cells that are immortalized with mutant CDK4, cyclin D, and TERT provide a useful tool for the determination of the optimal conditions for iPSC establishment.
During pregnancy, CD8+ T cells are important regulators in the balance of fetal tolerance and antiviral immunity. T-cell immunoglobulin mucin-3 (Tim-3) and programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) are well-recognized negative co-stimulatory molecules involved in viral persistence and tumor metastasis. Here, we demonstrate that CD8+ T cells co-expressing Tim-3 and PD-1 were down-regulated in the deciduae of female mice in abortion-prone matings compared with normal pregnant mice. In addition to their reduced numbers, the Tim-3+PD-1+CD8+ T cells produced lower levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-10, as well as a higher level of the pro-inflammatory cytokine interferon (IFN)-γ, relative to those from normal pregnancy. Furthermore, normal pregnant CBA/J females challenged with Tim-3- and/or PD-1-blocking antibodies were more susceptible to fetal resorption. These findings indicate that Tim-3 and PD-1 pathways play critical roles in regulating CD8+ T cell function and maintaining normal pregnancy.
The methylation status of sperm DNA differs between individual bulls. However, the relationship between methylation status and bull sperm parameters is not well elucidated. The present study investigated genome-wide methylation profiles at 450,000 CpG sites in bull spermatozoa by using a human DNA methylation microarray. Semen samples from three adult Japanese Black bulls with different in vitro fertilization (IVF) results and from a young Holstein bull through sexual maturation (at ages 10, 10.5, 15, and 25 months) were used for the analysis. The heatmap displaying the results of microarray analysis shows inter- and intra-individual differences in methylation profiles. After setting a cut-off of 0.2 for differences between ages (10, 10.5 vs. 15, 25 months) or between IVF results (developed to the blastocyst-stage, > 20% vs. < 10%), different methylation levels were detected at approximately 100 CpGs. We confirmed the different DNA methylation levels of CpG sites by using combined bisulfite restriction analysis (COBRA); five of the CpG sites reflected methylation levels similar to those detected by the microarray. One of the CpG sites was thought to reflect an age-related increase in methylation levels, which was confirmed by COBRA and bisulfite sequencing. However, the relationship between methylation status and IVF results could not be shown here. In conclusion, methylation profiles of individual and age-related alterations in bull spermatozoa can be revealed using a human microarray, and methylation changes in some CpG sites can be easily visualized using COBRA. Combined analysis of DNA methylation levels and sperm parameters could be considered an effective approach for assessing bull fertility in the future.
Follicle growth in the mammalian ovary is coordinately controlled by multiple factors to sustain periodic ovulation. In this study, we investigated the role of progesterone on follicle growth in the mouse ovary. As the concentration of progesterone changes during the estrus cycle, we cultured the sliced mouse ovary in a medium containing 10 ng/ml, 100 ng/ml, and 1 μg/ml progesterone. Progesterone promoted the growth of primordial to primary follicles at 100 ng/ml, while it suppressed the growth of secondary follicles at 1 μg/ml. Follicles at other developmental stages in the cultured ovary were unaffected with different concentrations of progesterone. The number of ovulated oocytes increased in the medium containing 100 ng/ml progesterone but decreased in the presence of 1 μg/ml progesterone. Follicles expressed two types of progesterone receptors, progesterone receptor (PGR) and PGR membrane component 1 (PGRMC1). While PGR shows transient expression on granulosa cells of Graafian follicles, PGRMC1 expresses in granulosa cells of developing follicles. These results suggest that progesterone controls the growth of developing follicles through PGRMC1. Our study shows that the effect of progesterone on ovulation and follicle growth in mouse ovary is dependent on the concentration of progesterone and the follicle stage.
Sufficient generation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) by oocytes is critical for fertilization and embryo development. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of supplementing media with L-carnitine, a co-factor required for the metabolism of fatty acids, during the peri-fertilization period on embryo development and energy generation. Firstly, in vitro fertilization (IVM) porcine oocytes were co-incubated with sperm in IVF medium supplemented with 0‒24 mM L-carnitine. The blastocyst formation rate of the control group was greater than those of the L-carnitine groups (P < 0.05), except for the 3 mM L-carnitine group. Subsequently, oocytes and/or sperm were treated without or with 3 mM L-carnitine for either the 1 h pre-IVF oocyte incubation; the pre-IVF sperm preparation; the first 30 min of IVF; or the entire 5.5 h of IVF. Despite similar fertilization rates among the groups, the cleavage rate of the pre-IVF oocyte group was significantly greater than those of the other groups, except for the pre-IVF sperm group. Additionally, the oocyte ATP content and the cryotolerance of the resulting blastocysts were examined following the pre-IVF oocyte treatment. Oocyte ATP content was also similar among the groups (P > 0.05). Following vitrification, the post-warming survival rate of blastocysts derived from L-carnitine-treated oocytes was greater than that of blastocysts derived from untreated oocytes (42.4% vs. 24.9%; P < 0.05). In conclusion, a 1 h oocyte exposure to 3 mM L-carnitine immediately prior to insemination enhanced cleavage and improved the cryotolerance of resulting blastocysts. While the findings are suggestive of a lipolytic action, further studies are required to clarify the contributions of lipid metabolism and oxidative mechanisms to the observed effects of the L-carnitine treatment.
Pairing, synapsis, and crossover recombination of homologous chromosomes (homologs) are prerequisite for the proper segregation of homologs during meiosis I. The meiosis-specific cohesin subunit, RAD21L, is essential for such meiotic chromosomal events, but it is unknown to what extent RAD21L by itself contributes to the process since various meiotic genes are also involved. To reveal the exclusive contribution of RAD21L to the specific regulation of homologs, we examined the effects of ectopic RAD21L expression on chromosome dynamics in somatic cells. We found that expression of GFP-fused RAD21L by plasmid transfection significantly shortened the distance between two FISH signals representing a pair of homologs for chromosome X or chromosome 11 in the nuclei compared to that in control (non-transfected) cells whereas expression of GFP-fused RAD21, a mitotic counterpart of RAD21L, showed no detectable effects. This indicates that RAD21L, when ectopically expressed in somatic cells, can promote homolog adjacency, which resembles the homolog pairing normally seen during meiosis. Furthermore, deletion of the N-terminal winged helix domain from RAD21L, prevented its association with another cohesin subunit, SMC3, and abolished the phenomenon of homolog adjacency upon ectopic expression. Our findings suggest that RAD21L-containing cohesin can promotes homolog adjacency independently of other meiotic gene products, which might be central to the process of meiotic homolog paring.
Interferon tau (IFN-τ) is a ruminant-specific type I IFN secreted by a conceptus before its attachment to the uterus. IFN-τ induces the expression of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) via the type I IFN receptor (IFNAR), which is composed of IFNAR1 and IFNAR2 subunits in the endometrium. However, expression patterns of IFNARs during the estrous cycle have not been reported. We hypothesized that the response to a type I IFN changes along with IFNARs and the IFN-regulatory factors (IRFs) driving transcription of IFN signal-related genes and modulating a type I IFN signal during the estrous cycle. We investigated the estrous cycle stage-dependent type I IFN induction of ISGs and expression patterns of IFN signal-related genes in bovine endometrial tissues. Endometrial tissue pieces collected from bovine uteri at each estrous stage (early, mid, and late) were cultured with or without recombinant bovine IFN-α or concentrated pregnant uterine flushing (PUF) on day 18 after confirming the presence of a conceptus. IFN-α and PUF each significantly increased the expression of ISGs in endometrial tissues. The induction levels of the typical ISGs (MX1-a and ISG15) were significantly higher at the mid stage and correlated with high expression of IRFs at the mid stage. The immunostaining of IFNARs showed strong fluorescence intensities in luminal and glandular epithelia at the early and mid stages. Collectively, these results suggest that the endometrium exhibits estrous cycle stage-dependent responsiveness to type I IFN that may be associated with the expression of IFNARs and IRFs for pregnancy recognition.
Utero-placental (Ut-Pl) angiogenesis and blood flow are fundamental for successful outcome of pregnancy. They are controlled by numerous vasodilator and vasoconstrictor systems such as endothelins (EDNs) and the renin angiotensin system. Dogs possess an invasive type of placentation, classified as endotheliochorial. Despite increasing knowledge regarding canine Ut-Pl function, little information exists on uterine and placental vascular activity during initiation, maintenance and termination of pregnancy in this species. The current study investigated expression of EDNs and their receptors (EDNRA and EDNRB) in the pre-implantation uterus and Ut-Pl compartments during gestation and at normal parturition, as well as in mid-pregnant dogs treated with the antigestagen aglepristone. The Ut-Pl mRNA expression of EDN1 and EDNRA was constant until mid-gestation and increased significantly during prepartum luteolysis. In contrast, EDN2 was highest pre-implantation and decreased following placentation, remaining low thereafter. Expression of the EDN-activating enzyme ECE1 and mRNA of EDNRB increased towards mid-gestation and was further elevated at prepartum luteolysis. Antigestagen treatment resulted in increased levels of EDN1 and EDNRA. At the cellular level, the uterine expression of EDN1, ECE1 and EDNRB was found predominantly in the endometrial surface and glandular epithelial cells; uterine signals for EDNRA were weak. In Ut-Pl all targets were mainly localized in the placenta fetalis, with syncytiotrophoblast staining stronger for ECE1 and EDNRB. In contrast, EDNRA stained strongly at the base of the placental labyrinth. Expression and localization of EDNs (EDN-1, -2), EDN receptors and ECE1 in the placenta fetalis suggests their involvement in the trophoblast invasion and proliferation.
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