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The Grb14 protein is a member of the Grb7 protein family. This protein family acts by binding to tyrosine kinase receptors, promoting cell proliferation and differentiation. There is evidence of the involvement of tyrosine kinase factors in the bovine oocyte maturation process. However, Grb14 has not been studied for bovine cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs). The aim of the present study was to characterize Grb14 mRNA expression in bovine COCs during follicular development. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the expression of Grb14 mRNA is not regulated by estradiol. mRNA expression of Grb14 was assessed in 480 COCs from follicles of different sizes (1–3, 4–6, 6–8 or >8 mm) by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Grb14 mRNA expression decreased in COCs throughout follicular growth (P < 0.05). The role of estradiol in the expression of Grb14 mRNA in COCs was studied. Grb14 mRNA abundance did not differ in COCs cultured in the presence or absence of 17β-estradiol or fulvestrant. In conclusion, we showed that Grb14 mRNA is downregulated in COCs during antral follicle development, a finding that suggests a role for Grb14 in oocyte competence.
During meiosis resumption, oocytes undergo a series of nuclear and cytosolic changes that prepare them for fertilization and that are referred to as oocyte maturation. These events are characterized by germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD), chromatin condensation and spindle formation and, among cytosolic changes, organelle redistribution and maturation of Ca2+-release mechanisms. The progression of the meiotic cell cycle is regulated by M phase/maturation-promoting factor (MPF) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). Changes in the levels of intracellular free Ca2+ ion have also been implicated strongly in the triggering of the initiation of the M phase. Ca2+ signals can be generated by Ca2+ release from intracellular Ca2+ stores (endoplasmic reticulum; ER) or by Ca2+ influx from the extracellular space. In this sense, the L-type Ca2+ channel plays an important role in the incorporation of Ca2+ from the extracellular space. Two types of intracellular Ca2+ receptor/channels are known to mediate the intracellular Ca2+ release from the ER lumen. The most abundant, the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R), and the other Ca2+ channel, the ryanodine receptor (RyR), have also been reported to mediate Ca2+ release in several oocytes. In amphibians, MPF and MAPK play a central role during oocyte maturation, controlling several events. However, no definitive relationships have been identified between Ca2+ and MPF or MAPK. We investigated the participation of Ca2+ in the spontaneous and progesterone-induced nuclear maturation in Rhinella arenarum oocytes and the effect of different pharmacological agents known to produce modifications in the Ca2+ channels. We demonstrated that loading competent and incompetent oocytes with the intracellular calcium chelator BAPTA/AM produced suppression of spontaneous and progesterone-induced GVBD. In our results, the capacity of progesterone to trigger meiosis reinitiation in Rhinella in the presence of L-type Ca2+ channel blockers (nifedipine and lanthane) indicated that spontaneous and progesterone-induced maturation would be independent of extracellular calcium influx, but would be sensitive to intracellular Ca2+ deprivation. As demonstrated by the effect of thimerosal and heparin in Rhinella arenarum, the intracellular increase in Ca2+ during maturation is also mediated mainly by IP3R. In addition, our results using caffeine, an agonist of the RyR, could suggest that Ca2+ release from ryanodine-sensitive stores is not essential for oocyte maturation in Rhinella. The decrease in MPF activity with NaVO3 negatively affected the percentage of thimerosal-induced GVBD. This finding suggests that Ca2+ release through the IP3R could be involved in the signalling pathway that induces MPF activation. However, the inhibition of MAP/ERK kinase (MEK) by PD98128 or P90 by geldanamycin produced a significant decrease in the percentages of GVBD induced by thimerosal. This finding suggests that Ca2+ release per se cannot bypass the inhibition of the MAPK activity.
The objective of the present study was to correlate some parameters (cleavage, blastocyst production, quality degree score, total cell number, fresh apoptosis and lipid content) with embryo survival after cryopreservation. A total of 1727 in vitro-produced bovine blastocysts were used to establish the parameters (mean ± standard error of the mean (SEM)) for cleavage (85.6 ± 0.8), blastocyst production (39.9 ± 1.4), quality degree score (1.6 ± 0.1), total cell number (140.1 ± 2.9), fresh apoptosis (20.8 ± 1.1) and lipid content (21.3 ± 0.8 droplets). On the same way 1316 blastocysts were vitrified for the determination of post-cryopreservation embryo survival (49.4 ± 1.9). Fresh apoptosis rate and total lipid droplets value were correlated (P < 0.05) with embryo survival after cryopreservation (r = 0.91 and r = 0.59; respectively). However, cleavage, blastocyst production, quality degree score and total cell number were not correlated (P > 0.05) with embryo cryotolerance (r = 0.23, r = 0.38, r = 0.22 and r = 0.28; respectively). Therefore, the increased lipid content was moderately correlated with apoptosis in vitrified blastocysts. On the other hand, increased apoptosis in fresh blastocysts was strongly correlated with apoptosis in vitrified blastocysts, which indicated that the apoptosis rate in fresh embryos was a better parameter than the lipid content to predict post-vitrification embryo survival.
The maintenance and preservation of strains of mice used in biomedical research presents a unique challenge to individual investigators and research institutions. The goal of this study was to assess a comprehensive system for mouse strain conservation through a combination of natural mating, sperm cryopreservation and assisted reproductive technology. Our strategy was based on the collection and cryopreservation of fresh epididymal sperm from male mice by semi-vasectomy; these mice were then naturally mated for breeding purposes. If no satisfactory results were obtained from natural breeding, then the cryopreserved sperm were used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI); resultant embryos were then transferred into pseudopregnant-recipient female mice. Our results show that some semi-vasectomized mouse strains can be conserved by natural breeding, and that sterile males can be compensated for through the use of IVF and ICSI technology. As such, we believe this system is suitable for the purpose of strain conservation, allowing the continuation of natural breeding with the safeguard of assisted reproduction available.
This study was conducted to investigate the pattern of DNA methylation in vitrified–thawed mouse oocytes and their in vitro fertilized early embryos. Firstly, mouse oocytes at metaphase II (MII) stage of meiosis were allocated randomly into three groups: (1) untreated (control); (2) exposed to vitrification solution without being plunged into liquid nitrogen (toxicity); or (3) vitrified by open-pulled straw (OPS) method (vitrification). Oocytes from all three groups were fertilized subsequently in vitro. The level of DNA methylation in the MII oocytes and their early embryos was then examined by immunofluorescence using an anti-5-methylcytosine (anti-5-MeC) monoclonal antibody and fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-conjugated goat anti-mouse IgG. Developmental rates to 2-cell embryos (62.28%) and blastocysts (43.68%) of the vitrified–thawed oocytes were lower (P < 0.01) than those of fresh oocytes (81.47%, 61.99%) and vitrification solution treated (79.20%, 60.04%) oocytes. DNA methylation (as reflected by 5-MeC fluorescence intensity) in the vitrification group was less (P < 0.01) for MII oocyte and 2- to 8-cell stages compared with that in the control and toxicity groups. Accordingly, a reduction in global genomic methylation due to vitrification of MII oocytes may result in compromised in vitro developmental potential in early mouse embryos.
The objective of this study was to assess the viability and cryotolerance of zebu embryos produced in vitro with or without the addition of fetal calf serum (FCS) and forskolin (F). Embryos produced in vivo were used as a control. Presumptive zygotes were cultured in modified synthetic oviductal fluid supplemented with amino acids (SOFaa), bovine serum albumin (BSA) and with (2.5%) or without (0%) FCS. On day 6 of growth, the embryos from each group were divided into treatments with or without 10 μM F to induce embryonic lipolysis, comprising a total of four experimental groups: 2.5% FCS, 0% FCS, 2.5% + F and 0% + F. For vitrification, embryos were exposed to vitrification solution 1 (5 M EG (ethylene glycol)) for 3 min and then transferred to vitrification solution 2 (7 M EG, 0.5 M galactose solution and 18% (w/v) Ficoll 70) before being introduced to liquid nitrogen. The presence of FCS in the culture medium resulted in the production of embryos with a similar rate of damaged cells compared with in vivo-produced embryos. After vitrification, the 2.5% FCS group had a significantly higher rate of damaged cells when compared with the other groups (P < 0.05). The results of this experiment indicated that the omission of FCS and the addition of forskolin do not have deleterious effect on embryo production rates. In addition, embryos produced in the presence of FCS had greater sensitivity to cryopreservation, but this effect was reversed when forskolin was added to the medium, which improved embryo survival without affecting embryo development and quality after vitrification.
Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) have the ability to self-renew and offer a pathway for genetic engineering of the male germ line. Cryopreservation of SSCs has potential value for the treatment of male infertility, spermatogonial transplantation, and so on. In order to investigate the cryopreservation effects of different cryoprotectants on murine SSCs, 0.2 M of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), trehalose and soybean lecithin were added to the cryoprotective medium, respectively, and the murine SSCs were frozen at −80°C or −196°C. The results indicated that the optimal recovery rates of murine SSCs in the cryoprotective medium supplemented with LDL, trehalose and soybean lecithin were 92.53, 76.35 and 75.48% at −80°C, respectively. Compared with freezing at −196°C, the optimum temperature for improvement of recovery rates of frozen murine SSCs, cryopreservation in three different cryoprotectants at −80°C, were 17.11, 6.68 and 10.44% respectively. The recovery rates of murine SSCs in the cryoprotective medium supplemented with 0.2 M LDL were significantly higher than that of other cryoprotectants (P < 0.05). Moreover, the recovery rates were demonstrated to be greater at −80°C compared with at −196°C (P < 0.05). In conclusion, 0.2 M of LDL could significantly protect murine SSCs at −80°C. In the freezing–thawing process, LDL is responsible for the cryopreservation of murine SSCs because it can form a protective film at the surface of membranes. However, more research is needed to evaluate and understand the precise role of LDL during the freezing–thawing of SSCs.
The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of fetal bovine serum (FBS) concentration, equilibration time, and oocyte pre-treatment with cytochalasin B (CCB) on subsequent development of vitrified-warmed ovine immature (GVCOCs) and matured (MII) oocytes with (MIICOCs) or without cumulus cells (MIIDOs). In Experiment 1, the effects of FBS concentrations (10 and 20%) during the vitrification-warming procedure were examined. Survival rates after warming were not different between GVCOCs, MIICOCs and MIIDOs oocytes. After in vitro fertilization, rate of cleaved embryos in MIICOCs group at the presence of 20%FBS was higher than MIIDOs and GVCOCs groups. In Experiment 2, the effects of equilibration times (5, 7, and 10 min) were examined. There was no difference in survival rate of vitrified-warmed oocytes equilibrated at different times. Although, the rate of cleavage in MIICOCs and MIIDOs oocytes equilibrated for 10 and 7 min, respectively, was higher than 5 min equilibrated MIIDOs and 7 and 10 min equilibrated GVCOCs oocytes. In Experiment 3, the effects of oocyte pre-treatment with CCB were examined. Despite the insignificant difference in survival rate of vitrified-warmed ovine immature and matured oocytes, the rates of cleavage in CCB pretreated groups were significantly lower than untreated groups. Moreover, the blastocysts were only derived from those cumulus enclosed vitrified-warmed germinal vesicle (GV) and MII oocytes that had been exposed to 10% FBS in the absence of CCB. In conclusion, the presence of cumulus cells, 10% FBS, and the omission of CCB were beneficial for post-warming development of vitrified ovine oocytes.
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) is known to protect boar sperm during freezing–thawing, but little information is known about the effects of LDL extracted from different avian egg yolks on post-thaw boar semen quality. The purpose of this study was to compare and analyze the effects of LDL at various concentrations and different species on boar sperm quality after freezing–thawing. LDL extracted from the yolk of hen egg, duck egg, quail egg, pigeon egg or ostrich egg was added to the extender at the concentrations of 0.06, 0.07, 0.08, 0.09 and 0.1 g/ml, respectively, and their effects on frozen–thawed boar sperm quality were assessed. According to all measured parameters, the results showed that sperm motility, acrosome integrity and plasma membrane integrity were 43.20%, 52.57% and 48.13%, respectively, after being frozen–thawed with 0.09 g/ml LDL extracted from pigeon egg yolk. All these quality parameters were higher than that of other groups (P < 0.05). In conclusion, our results confirmed that LDL extracted from pigeon egg yolk had the best cryoprotective effects on frozen–thawed boar sperm among all of the groups supplemented with LDL from five kinds of avian egg in extender. The optimum concentration of LDL extracted from pigeon egg in boar semen freezing extender was 0.09 g/ml.
The goal of this project was to determine whether the originating strain of mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells affects the maintenance of their pluripotency under uniform culture conditions. ES cells from two strains of mice, E14 and C2J, were tested. Both ES cell lines were cultured in KOSR + 2i medium and then injected into C57BL/6J blastocysts. Our results demonstrate that this medium could support both E14 and C2J ES cells to keep their pluripotency, though E14 ES cells were found to have a higher chimeric rate than C2J ES cells. However, analysis by backcrossing revealed that C2J and E14 ES cells have the same ability for germline transmission. Our results demonstrate that ES cells derived from E14 and C2J cells have the same capacity for germline transmission when injected into C57BL/6J blastocysts; however, due to the limitation of mixed genetic background between E14 cells and host C57BL/6J embryos, C2J ES cells are preferable to E14 ES cells for use in gene-targeting and should become the cell line of choice for the generation of genetically engineered mutant mouse lines.
The precision of embryo evaluation using stereoscopic microscopy (SM) and inverted phase contrast microscopy (PCM) was compared in 20 Bos indicus cows superovulated at two different times of the year. In total, 118 embryos were collected and classified according to their developmental stage and quality by two independent evaluators using SM and inverted PCM. Cohen's kappa coefficient was used to determine concordance between SM and PCM observations. A good level of agreement (k = 0.616) was found for quality level, and a moderate one (k = 0.464) for developmental stage, particularly at the morula stage. Using the TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labelling) technique, concordance level was deemed to be low with the SM (k = 0.169), and poor with the PCM (k = 0.217). Differences in concordance levels were also found between observations made at the two times of year, 78 embryos were evaluated in the rainy season when concordance level was good (k = 0.68), in contrast to the 40 embryos evaluated in the dry season when agreement was found to be poor (k = 0.24). In conclusion, inverted PCM was somewhat more effective for evaluating embryos, particularly at the morula stage. However, considering the high cost of an inverted PCM, the differences observed do not justify its purchase for routine embryo evaluation.
This study was designed to evaluate the quality and viability of bovine embryos produced by in vitro fertilization (IVF), after intracytoplasmic injection of pCX–EGFP–liposome complexes or pBCKIP2.8–liposome complexes (plasmids that codify the human insulin gene). Cleavage, blastocysts and expanded blastocysts rates of these both groups were not different from that of controls (IVF or IVF embryos injected with liposomes alone; IVF-L). The percentage of EGFP-positive (EGFP+) blastocysts was 41.8%. In Experiment 2, the blastocysts obtained after injection of pCX–EGFP–liposome complexes that did or did not express the transgene, were analyzed by TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick-end labelling) assay at days 6, 7 and 8 of culture in vitro(Bd6, Bd7 and Bd8), in order to evaluate DNA fragmentation. The EGFP+ blastocysts showed different proportions of TUNEL-positive cells (T+) at Bd6, Bd7 and Bd8 (91, 73.7 and 99.5%, respectively) while blastocysts without EGFP expression (EGFP−) showed statistically lower numbers of fragmented nuclei (0, 44.6 and 85%, respectively; P < 0.05). There was no evidence of DNA fragmentation in either Bd6 or Bd7 IVF and IVF-L control blastocysts, but T+ nuclei were detected at Bd8 in both groups (66.4 and 85.8% respectively). Finally, IVF blastocysts (n = 21) injected with insulin–liposome complexes, cultured for 6, 7 and 8 days, were transferred to recipient cows. Pregnancy rates of 18.2% (2/11) and 40% (2/5) resulted from the transfer of Bd6 and Bd7 cells, respectively. Two pregnancies developed to term but they were not transgenic for the insulin gene. In conclusion, EGFP expression affects DNA integrity but not embryo development. Moreover, additional transfers are required in order to overcome the drawbacks generated by in vitro culture length and transgene expression.
One of the greatest challenges for reproductive cryobiologists today is to develop an efficient cryopreservation method for human and domestic animal oocytes. The objective of the present study was to optimize a low toxicity solution called VM3 to vitrify porcine oocytes using an open pulled straw (OPS) device and to evaluate the effects on viability, chromosomal organization and cortical granules distribution. Two experiments were conducted in this study. Firstly, we determined the minimum concentration of cryoprotectant present in the VM3 solution required (7.6 M) for vitrification using an OPS device. The appearance of opacity was observed when using a cooling solution at –196°C; no observable opacity was noted as vitrification. In addition, the ultrastructure of oocytes in VM3 or VM3 optimized solution was examined using cryo-scanning electron microscopy. The minimum total cryoprotectant concentration present in VM3 solution necessary for apparent vitrification was 5.6 M when combined with use of an OPS device. Use of both vitrification solutions showed a characteristic plasticized surface. In the second experiment, the relative cytotoxicity of vitrification solutions (VM3 and VM3 optimized) was studied. Oocyte viability, chromosomal organization and the cortical granules distribution were assessed by fluorescent stain. After warming, oocyte survival rate was similar to that of fresh oocytes. The vitrification process significantly reduced correct chromosomal organization and cortical granules distribution rates compared with the fresh oocytes group. However, correct chromosomal organization and cortical granules distribution rates did not differ among oocytes placed in different vitrification solutions. In conclusion, our data demonstrated that the VM3 solution can be optimized and that reduction in concentration to 5.6 M enabled vitrification of oocytes with an OPS device, however use of the VM3 optimised solution had no beneficial effect on vitrification of porcine oocytes.
The beneficial effect of supplementing culture medium with melatonin has been reported during in vitro embryo development of species such as mouse, bovine and porcine. However, the effect of melatonin on mouse somatic cell nuclear transfer remains unknown. In this study, we assessed the effects of various concentrations of melatonin (10−6 to 10−12 M) on the in vitro development of mouse somatic cell nuclear transfer embryos for 96 h. Embryos cultured without melatonin were used as control. There was no significant difference in cleavage rates between the groups supplemented with melatonin, dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO) and the control. The rate of development to blastocyst stage was significantly higher in the group supplemented with 10−12 M melatonin compared with the control group (P < 0.05). Thus, our data demonstrated that adding melatonin to pre-implantation mouse nuclear-transferred embryos can accelerate blastocyst formation.
The large and optically clear embryos of the zebrafish provide an excellent model system in which to study the dynamic assembly of the essential contractile band components, actin and myosin, via double fluorescent labelling in combination with confocal microscopy. We report the rapid appearance (i.e. within <2 min) of a restricted arc of F-actin patches along the prospective furrow plane in a central, apical region of the blastodisc cortex. These patches then fused with each other end-to-end forming multiple actin cables, which were subsequently bundled together forming an F-actin band. During this initial assembly phase, the F-actin-based structure did not elongate laterally, but was still restricted to an arc extending ~15° either side of the blastodisc apex. This initial assembly phase was then followed by an extension phase, where additional F-actin patches were added to each end of the original arc, thus extending it out to the edges of the blastodisc. The dynamics of phosphorylated myosin light chain 2 (MLC2) recruitment to this F-actin scaffold also reflect the two-phase nature of the contractile apparatus assembly. MLC2 was not associated with the initial F-actin arc, but MLC2 clusters were recruited and assembled into the extending ends of the band. We propose that the MLC2-free central region of the contractile apparatus acts to position and then extend the cleavage furrow in the correct plane, while the actomyosin ends alone generate the force required for furrow ingression. This biphasic assembly strategy may be required to successfully divide the early cells of large embryos.
In amphibians, the components of the jelly coats that surround the oocytes at the time of fertilization and coordinate gamete interaction are secreted by the oviduct. We analysed the histological variations in the mucosa of the oviductal pars convoluta (PC) of Rhinella arenarum during the reproductive cycle and its relationship with secretion. During the preovulatory period, the mucosa reaches a high degree of morphological and functional development, with a large number of epithelial (ESC) and glandular secretory cells (GSC) loaded with contents that are secreted into the oviductal lumen. During the ovulatory period, the secretory cells (SC) of both layers present maximum secretory activity through apocrinia and merocrinia. While the ESC located at the tips of the folds release their content directly in contact with the oocytes, the GSC secrete material from the bottom of the epithelial folds that, by interaction with the secretion of the ESC in the lateral faces, form a product with a certain degree of organization. Secretion is a continuous process with formation of coats of increasing complexity from the intermediate proximal zone (IPZ) to the pars convoluta (pc) itself, and the passage of the oocyte is a requisite for the organization of the jelly coats around the gamete.
During the early postovulatory period, although there is a marked decrease in the number and volume of the SC, the ESC still release material into the oviductal lumen. In the late postovulatory period the morphological characteristics of the PC begin to recovery although there is no evidence of secretion.
To date, there has been little improvement in cryopreservation of bull sperm due to lack of understanding of the freezing mechanisms. Therefore, this study set out to investigate expression levels of fertility-associated proteins in bull sperm, and in particular the relationship between the 90 kDa heat-shock protein (HSP90) and the sperm characteristics after freezing–thawing. Semen was collected from eight Holstein bulls by artificial vagina. Characteristics of these fresh semen, including sperm motility, morphology, viability and concentration, were evaluated. Sperm quality was also assessed after freezing–thawing. Eight ejaculates were divided into two groups based on freezing resistance and sperm motility. Sperm proteins were extracted and sodium dodecyl sulphate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) analysis and western blotting were performed. SDS-PAGE results showed that there was substantial diversity in 90 kDa proteins in the frozen–thawed sperm and HSP90 was confirmed as one of the 90 kDa proteins by western blot. This study indicated that HSP90 expression correlated positively with sperm quality. The amount of expressed 90 kDa proteins in the high freezing resistance (HFR) group was significantly higher than that in the low freezing resistance (LFR) group (P < 0.05). Thus, higher expression of HSP90 could probably lead to the higher motility and freezing resistance of sperm found after freezing–thawing. Therefore, we concluded that level of HSP90 expression could be used to predict reliably and simply the freezing resistance of bull sperm.
We investigated the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by spermatozoa in two species of sea urchin. ROS generation was accompanied by the initiation of motility and respiration and influenced the motility and fertilizability of spermatozoa. The sea urchin performs external fertilization in aerobic seawater. Sperm motility was initiated after spawning through Na+/H+ exchange. ROS generation was dependent on the respiration and sperm concentration and its generation was first observed at initiation of motility, via activation of respiration through ATP/ADP transport. The ROS generation rate increased at higher dilution ratios of spermatozoa, in a manner that was synchronous with the respiratory rate. This phenomenon resembled the previously defined ‘sperm dilution effect’ on respiration. The loss of motility and fertilizability was induced not only by treatment with hydrogen peroxide but also by sperm dilution. Storage of spermatozoa with a higher dilution ratio also accelerated the decrease in fertilizability. Thus, optimum sea urchin fertilizability is maintained by storage of undiluted spermatozoa on ice, in order to minimize oxidative stress and to maximize longevity.