Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 February 2011
Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) has emerged as an important tool for producing transgenic animals and deriving transgenic embryonic stem cells. The process of SCNT involves fusion of in vitro matured oocytes with somatic cells to make embryos that are transgenic when the nuclear donor somatic cells carry ‘foreign’ DNA and are clones when all the donor cells are genetically identical. However, in canines, it is difficult to obtain enough mature oocytes for successful SCNT due to the very low efficiency of in vitro oocyte maturation in this species that hinders canine transgenic cloning. One solution is to use oocytes from a different species or even a different genus, such as bovine oocytes, that can be matured easily in vitro. Accordingly, the aim of this study was: (1) to establish a canine fetal fibroblast line transfected with the green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene; and (2) to investigate in vitro embryonic development of canine cloned embryos derived from transgenic and non-transgenic cell lines using bovine in vitro matured oocytes. Canine fetal fibroblasts were transfected with constructs containing the GFP and puromycin resistance genes using FuGENE 6®. Viability levels of these cells were determined by the MTT [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide] assay. Interspecies SCNT (iSCNT) embryos from normal or transfected cells were produced and cultured in vitro. The MTT measurement of GFP-transfected fetal fibroblasts (mean OD = 0.25) was not significantly different from non-transfected fetal fibroblasts (mean OD = 0.35). There was no difference between transgenic iSCNT versus non-transgenic iSCNT embryos in terms of fusion rates (73.1% and 75.7%, respectively), cleavage rates (69.7% vs. 73.8%) and development to the 8–16-cell stage (40.1% vs. 42.7%). Embryos derived from the transfected cells completely expressed GFP at the 2-cell, 4-cell, and 8–16-cell stages without mosaicism. In summary, our results demonstrated that, following successful isolation of canine transgenic cells, iSCNT embryos developed to early pre-implantation stages in vitro, showing stable GFP expression. These canine–bovine iSCNT embryos can be used for further in vitro analysis of canine transgenic cells and will contribute to the production of various transgenic dogs for use as specific human disease models.