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Production of rabbit chimeric embryos by aggregation of zona-free nuclear transfer blastomeres

  • P. Chrenek (a1) and A.V. Makarevich (a1)

Abstract

The objective of this study was to compare in vitro developmental capacity of zona-free aggregated rabbit chimeric embryos and the allocation of EGFP (enhanced green fluorescence protein) gene expression to the inner cell mass (ICM). We produced chimeric embryos by synchronous aggregation of zona-free blastomeres from embryonic cell nuclear transfer (EMB-NT) or somatic cell nuclear transfer (SC-NT) and blastomeres from normal zona-free embryos (N) at the 16-cell stage. In the control group, transgenic (TR) and normal zona-free embryos were used to produce chimeric embryos (TR<>N). EMB-NT embryos were produced by fusion of enucleated oocytes with embryonic cells, which were derived from 32-cell stage transgenic embryos bearing the EGFP gene. The SC-NT embryos were produced by fusing enucleated oocytes with cumulus cells, which were derived from homozygotes transgenic for the EGFP gene female oocytes at 16 h post-coitum. Nuclei of transgenic blastomeres emitted a green signal under fluorescence microscopy. Zona-free EMB-NT or zona-free SC-NT rabbit embryos, both with EGFP fluorescence, as well as TR and zona-free rabbit embryos with no fluorescence (EMB-NT<>N, SC-NT<>N, TR<>N) were aggregated on day 2.5 and evaluated on day 5. The proportion of EMB-NT<>N embryos that developed to the blastocyst stage was significantly higher compared with SC-NT derived cells (p<0.05), but significantly lower than in TR<>N chimeric blastocysts (p<0.001). Similarly, a higher proportion (p<0.001) of EGFP-positive cells allocated to ICM of chimeric blastocysts was revealed in TR<>N chimeras (55%), compared with EMB-NT<>N (35%) and SC-NT<>N (21%). Our results indicate that synchronous chimeric embryos reconstructed from TR embryos were better able to develop and colonize the ICM area than EMB-NT and SC-NT embryos. In this study we have demonstrated for the first time that rabbit NT-derived embryos are able to develop into chimeric blastocysts and participate in the ICM area.

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Corresponding author

All correspondence to: P. Chrenek, Research Institute of Animal Production, Nitra, SK-94992, Slovak Republic. Tel.: +421 37 6546 236. Fax: +421 37 6546 189. e-mail: chrenekp@hotmail.com

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Production of rabbit chimeric embryos by aggregation of zona-free nuclear transfer blastomeres

  • P. Chrenek (a1) and A.V. Makarevich (a1)

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