Soy-based formula contains high concentrations of the isoflavone genistein. Genistein possesses estrogenic and tyrosine kinase inhibitory activity and interferes with cellular proliferation and development. To date, the acute and chronic effects of genistein on ovarian and uterine development have not been fully elucidated. In this study, mice at postnatal day 1 were subcutaneously injected with 100 mg/kg genistein for 10 consecutive days, and then their ovaries and uteri were collected on days 10, 21, and 90. Histological evaluation was performed after hematoxylin and eosin staining. The proliferating activity was indicated by the proliferating indicator protein Ki67. Results showed that the subcutaneous injection of genistein to neonatal mice induced the formation of multi-oocyte follicles and delayed the primordial follicle assembly in the ovaries. Genistein significantly enlarged the cross-sectional area of the uterine cavity and wall and disrupted the regularity between the uterine stroma and myometrium. Genistein exposure inhibited proliferative activity because fewer Ki67-positive nuclei were detected in ovarian and uterine cell populations than in the control. Furthermore, most ovaries from adult mice given neonatal genistein were without corpora lutea, and there appeared to be cystic follicles and hypertrophy of the theca, and cortical and medullary layers. Considering the high concentration of isoflavone in soy-based infant formulas and livestock feed, we suggest that the use of isoflavone-rich diets in humans and livestock receive closer examination.
Mouse trophoblast stem cells (TSCs) have been established and maintained using hyperglycemic conditions (11 mM glucose) for no apparent good reason. Because glucose metabolites are used as resources for cellular energy production, biosynthesis, and epigenetic modifications, differences in extracellular glucose levels may widely affect cellular function. Since the hyperglycemic culture conditions used for TSC culture have not been fully validated, the effect of extracellular glucose levels on the properties of TSCs remains unclear. To address this issue, we investigated the gene expression of stemness-related transcription factors in TSCs cultured in the undifferentiated state under various glucose concentrations. We also examined the expression of trophoblast subtype markers during differentiation, after returning the glucose concentration to the conventional culture concentration (11 mM). As a result, it appeared that the extracellular glucose conditions in the stem state not only affected the gene expression of stemness-related transcription factors before differentiation but also affected the expression of marker genes after differentiation, with some line-to-line variation. In the TS4 cell line, which showed the largest glucose concentration-dependent fluctuations in gene expression among all the lines examined, low glucose (1 mM glucose, LG) augmented H3K27me3 levels. An Ezh2 inhibitor prevented these LG-induced changes in gene expression, suggesting the possible involvement of H3K27me3 in the changes in gene expression seen in LG. These results collectively indicate that the response of the TSCs to the change in the extracellular glucose concentration is cell line-dependent and a part of which may be epigenetically memorized.
In a prior study, comparisons of individuals of Anas platyrhynchos with higher/lower reproductive performances showed that the expression of the transmembrane and immunoglobulin domain containing 1 (TMIGD1) gene significantly differed between the two groups. Here, we demonstrate that ducks with the TMIGD1 GG genotype have a significantly higher fertilization rate than other TMIGD1 genotypes. Primers designed based on the TMIGD1 sequence of Pekin duck were able to successfully amplify a TMIGD1 fragment from Tsaiya ducks, and sequencing results indicated that a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) of the TMIGD1 gene existed. We also developed a cost-effective method of restriction fragment length polymorphism. Using the above methods, ducks were classified into three genotypes. To identify the relationships between genotypes and traits, we recorded the ducks’ performance; to ensure the coverage of the entire duration of the fertile period, the egg collection period was extended to 18 days, and therefore, lower than usual fertilization rates were observed. Further assessment using a high-throughput system showed that the ducks with the GG genotype exhibited the highest fertilization rates among genotypes (P < 0.05). We suggest that TMIGD1 may affect the release of sperm protection factors from the female genital tract, and thus alter fertilization rate. In conclusion, the results of this study demonstrate that the TMIGD1 GG genotype can be used as a new DNA marker to identify animals with high fertilization rates at a young age, a process which could improve farming efficiency.
Ovarian reserve in cattle can be predicted by an indicator, the antral follicle count (AFC), which is easily determined via ovarian ultrasonography. However, the repeatability of AFC measurements in the same individual taken approximately 1 year apart after first parity remains unclear. This study, thus, aimed to clarify the between-lactation repeatability of AFC after first parity in dairy cows. We measured the AFC of the same individual cows consecutively across both first and second parity, both second and third parity, and both third and fourth parity in 31, 37, and 26 heads, respectively. The values of the intraclass correlation coefficients (ICC) for the AFCs in first–second and second–third parity cows were more than 0.8, and the value of the ICC for the AFCs in third–fourth parity cows was significantly lower than that in first–second parity cows (P = 0.01). Subsequently, based on the average number of AFCs measured at some points from first to third parity, we classified the cows into three tertiles: < 11 (low), 11–15 (intermediate), and ≥ 15 (high). We then compared the reproductive performance of the first through third parity cows among the groups. The hazards of pregnancy by 200 days postpartum were higher in the high group than in the other groups (P < 0.05). Our findings demonstrate that between-lactation repeatability of AFC from first through third parity in dairy cows is very high, and that cows with an AFC of ≥ 15 have a better reproductive performance than cows with a low AFC.
Interferon-tau (IFNT), a type I interferon (IFN), is known as pregnancy recognition signaling molecule secreted from the ruminant conceptus during the preimplantation period. Type I IFNs, such as IFN-alpha and IFN-beta, are known to activate cell-death pathways as well as induce apoptosis. In cows, induction of apoptosis with DNA fragmentation is induced by IFNT in cultured bovine endometrial epithelial cells. However, the status of cell-death pathways in the bovine endometrium during the preimplantation period still remains unclear. In the present study, we investigated the different cell-death pathways, including apoptosis, pyroptosis, and autophagy, in uterine tissue obtained from pregnant cows and in vitro cultured endometrial epithelial cells with IFNT stimulation. The expression of CASP7, 8, and FADD (apoptosis-related genes) was significantly higher in pregnant day 18 uterine tissue in comparison to non-pregnant day 18 tissue. The expression of CASP4, 11, and NLRP3 (pyroptosis-related genes) was significantly higher in the pregnant uterus in comparison to non-pregnant uterus. In contrast, autophagy-related genes were not affected by pregnancy. We also investigated the effect of IFNT on the expression of cell-death pathway-related genes, as well as DNA fragmentation in cultured endometrial epithelial cells. Similar to its effects in pregnant uterine tissue, IFNT affected the increase of apoptosis-related (CASP8) and pyroptosis-related genes (CASP11), but did not affect autophagy-related gene expression. IFNT also increased γH2AX-positive cells, which is a marker of DNA fragmentation. These results suggest that apoptosis- and pyroptosis-related genes are induced by IFNT in the pregnant bovine endometrial epithelial cells.
Kisspeptin, identified as a natural ligand of GPR54 in 2001, is now considered as a master regulator of puberty and subsequent reproductive functions in mammals. Our previous studies using Kiss1 knockout (KO) rats clearly demonstrated the indispensable role of kisspeptin in gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH)/gonadotropin secretion. In addition, behavioral analyses of Kiss1 KO rats revealed an organizational effect of kisspeptin on neural circuits controlling sexual behaviors. Our studies using transgenic mice carrying a region-specific Kiss1 enhancer-driven reporter gene provided a clue as to the mechanism by which estrogen regulates Kiss1 expression in hypothalamic kisspeptin neurons. Analyses of Kiss1 expression and gonadotropin secretion during the pubertal transition shed light on the mechanism triggering GnRH/gonadotropin secretion at the onset of puberty in rats. Here, we summarize data obtained from the aforementioned studies and revisit the physiological roles of kisspeptin in the mechanism underlying reproductive functions in mammals.
Laminarin (LAM) is a β-glucan oligomer known to possess biological activities such as anticancer and antioxidant effects. This study explored the influence of LAM supplementation on in vitro aged porcine oocytes and the underlying mechanisms behind this influence. We found that LAM delayed the aging process and improved the quality of aged oocytes. LAM supplementation enhanced the subsequent developmental competence of aged oocytes during the in vitro aging process. The blastocyst formation rate was significantly increased in aged oocytes treated with 20 µg/ml LAM compared to non-treated aged oocytes (45.3% vs. 28.7%, P < 0.01). The mRNA levels of apoptosis-related genes, B cell lymphoma-2-associated X protein (Bax) and Caspase-3, were signiﬁcantly lower in blastocysts derived from the LAM-treated aged oocytes during the in vitro aging process. Furthermore, the level of intracellular reactive oxygen species was significantly decreased and that of glutathione was significantly increased in aged oocytes following LAM treatment. Mitochondrial membrane potential was increased, and the activities of caspase-3 and cathepsin B were significantly reduced in the LAM-treated aged oocytes compared with the non-treated aged oocytes. Taken together, these results suggest that LAM is beneficial for delaying the aging process in porcine oocytes.
Telomeres are repetitive non-coding DNA sequences located at the end of chromosomes in eukaryotic cells. Their most important function is to protect chromosome ends from being recognized as DNA damage. They are also implicated in meiosis and synapse formation. The length of telomeres inevitably shortens at the end of each round of DNA replication and, also, as a consequence of the exposure to oxidative stress and/or genotoxic agents. The enzyme telomerase contributes to telomere lengthening. It has been reported that telomerase is exclusively expressed in germ cells, granulosa cells, early embryos, stem cells, and various types of cancerous cells. Granulosa cells undergo many mitotic divisions and either granulosa cells or oocytes are exposed to a variety of genotoxic agents throughout folliculogenesis; thus, telomerase plays an important role in the maintenance of telomere length. In this review article, we have comprehensively evaluated the studies focusing on the regulation of telomerase expression and activity, as well as telomere length, during folliculogenesis from primordial to antral follicles, in several mammalian species including mice, bovines, and humans. Also, the possible relationships between female infertility caused by follicular development defects and alterations in the telomeres and/or telomerase activity are discussed.
Efficient cryopreservation and transportation of mouse sperm are among the most desirable strategies for current and future research on mouse genetics. However, the current method for sperm cryopreservation uses an 11-cm plastic straw, which is a bulky and fragile container. Developing an alternative to overcome the limitations associated with this method would accelerate biomedical research. Here, we developed the ST (sperm-freezing in ShorT STraw to reduce STorage space) method for cryopreserving mouse sperm in short 3.8-cm plastic straws. Up to nine short straws can be stored in a cryotube, reducing storage space. We further show that sperm frozen by the ST method can be transported in liquid nitrogen or dry ice without any detrimental effects on subsequent fertilization and the birth rate. Our findings suggest that this sperm-freezing method is beneficial not only for individual laboratories but also for large-scale mutagenesis/knockout and phenotyping programs.
Pregnancy loss during the late embryonic and early fetal periods influences dairy herd economy. The objectives of this study were to (1) investigate the effects of a single or double GnRH dose administered at the time of pregnancy diagnosis (28–34 days post-AI) on the pregnancy survival of cows in their third lactation or further carrying live singletons or unilateral twins, and (2) examine the impacts of GnRH treatment on subsequent twin reduction in twin pregnancies. Cows carrying singletons (n = 1,054) or unilateral twins (n = 379) were assigned at the time of pregnancy diagnosis to the following groups: control (no treatment), GnRH (100 μg GnRH), and 2GnRH (200 μg GnRH). Pregnancy loss was recorded in 180 of the 1,433 cows (12.6%) at 58–64 days post-AI. Based on the odds ratios, there was a significant (P < 0.0001) interaction between the treatment group and twin pregnancy. This interaction implies that control cows carrying twins were 3.2 times more likely to suffer pregnancy loss than the other cows, whereas the GnRH and 2GnRH treatment groups cows carrying singletons or twins had pregnancy loss rates similar to the control cows carrying singletons. Twin reduction was observed in 35 twin pregnancies (9.2%). Cows in the GnRH and 2 GnRH groups were seven times more likely to show twin reduction than control cows. Our results indicate that GnRH administered at the time of pregnancy diagnosis had no beneficial effects in cows carrying singletons. In contrast, for twin pregnancies, the treatment increased the rate of pregnancy survival and was accompanied by an increase in the twin reduction rate.
Studying gene expression in germ cells is useful for elucidating mechanisms of transcriptional regulation, because different genes are activated in male and female germ cells. The promoter regions of an oocyte-specific gene, Oog1, have been characterized. Driving the expression of green fluorescent protein with these different promoter regions provided us with critical information on the regulation of gene expression. The 3.9 kb long promoter functions in both male and female germ cells in transgenic mice. What is the cause of this sexually dimorphic expression? There may be important factors within and perhaps also outside this 3.9 kb promoter region that are required to maintain proper sex-specific gene expression.
Stem cell homing is a complex phenomenon that involves multiple steps; thus far, attempts to increase homing efficiency have met with limited success. Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) migrate to the niche after microinjection into seminiferous tubules, but the homing efficiency is very low. Here we report that reversible disruption of the blood-testis barrier (BTB) between Sertoli cells enhances the homing efficiency of SSCs. We found that SSCs on a C57BL/6 background are triggered to proliferate in vitro when MHY1485, which stimulates MTORC, were added to culture medium. However, the cultured cells did not produce offspring by direct injection into the seminiferous tubules. When acyline, a gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogue, was administered into infertile recipients, SSC colonization increased by ~5-fold and the recipients sired offspring. In contrast, both untreated individuals and recipients that received leuprolide, another GnRH analogue, remained infertile. Acyline not only decreased CLDN5 expression but also impaired the BTB, suggesting that increased colonization was caused by efficient SSC migration through the BTB. Enhancement of stem cell homing by tight junction protein manipulation constitutes a new approach to improve homing efficiency, and similar strategy may be applicable to other self-renewing tissues.
We examined the effect of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) treatment 5 days after artificial insemination (AI) on conception rate when the first-wave dominant follicle (DF) in the ovaries was either ipsilateral or contralateral to the corpus luteum (CL) in lactating dairy cows. 577 cows from 4 dairy farms were divided into the following two groups 5 days after AI using transrectal ultrasonography: (1) the ipsilateral group (IG; n = 348), in which the DF was ipsilateral to the CL, and (2) the contralateral group (CG; n = 229), in which the DF was contralateral to the CL. IG and CG were further subdivided into two groups: non-treatment groups, which received no treatment (IG, n = 220; CG, n = 128), and hCG treatment group, that was administrated 1500 IU hCG 5 days after AI (IG, n = 143; CG, n = 86). Pregnancy was diagnosed by rectal palpation or transrectal ultrasonography from 53 to 67 days after AI. Conception rate was significantly (P < 0.01) higher in the hCG treatment group of IG (40.6%) than in the non-treatment group of IG (21.4%); however, there was no difference in the non-treatment (51.7%) and hCG treatment (43.0%) groups of CG. Parity, farm, days in milk at AI, interaction between the farm and hCG treatment and interaction between the farm and location of the first-wave DF and CL did not affect conception rate. Our results suggest that conception rate can be improved by administrating hCG only to cows with the first wave DF ipsilateral to the CL.
The antral follicle count (AFC) is used as an indicator of cow fertility. We herein investigated the relationship between AFC and the steroidogenesis of granulosa cells and confirmed the developmental competence of oocytes derived from early antral follicles (0.5–1.0 mm) using in vitro growth culture. Slaughterhouse-derived ovaries were divided into high (≥ 25) and low (< 25) AFC groups based on AFC (≥ 2.0 mm). Oocyte-cumulus-granulosa complexes (OCGCs) collected from early antral follicles were cultured for 12 days. The total number, viability, and diameter of granulosa cells and estradiol-17β and progesterone production during the culture were evaluated. Surviving oocytes on day 12 were subjected to in vitro maturation, and their volume and nuclear status were evaluated. Some oocytes were subjected to the evaluation of developmental competence to blastocysts. Although the total number and viability of granulosa cells did not differ between the groups, granulosa cell diameters were larger in the high AFC group than in the low AFC group. The estradiol-17β and progesterone ratio on day 8 was higher in the high AFC group than in the low AFC group. Oocyte volumes and nuclear maturation rates were greater in the high AFC group than in the low AFC group. The development rate to blastocysts was 9.1% in the high AFC group, while no oocytes developed to blastocysts in the low AFC group. Therefore, estradiol-17β production by granulosa cells appears to be greater in high AFC cattle than in low AFC cattle, thereby promoting the acquisition of oocyte competence.