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Octamer-binding transcription factor 4 (Oct4) is a critical molecule for the self-renewal and pluripotency of embryonic stem cells. Recent reports have shown that Oct4 also controls cell-cycle progression and enhances the proliferation of various types of cells. As the high proliferation of donor fibroblasts is critical to the production of transgenic pigs, using the somatic cell nuclear transfer technique, we analysed the effect of Oct4 overexpression on the proliferation of porcine fibroblasts and embryos. Porcine endogenous Oct4 cDNA was cloned, sequenced and inserted into an expression vector. The vector was transfected into porcine fibroblasts, and a stable Oct4-overexpressed cell line was established by antibiotic selection. Oct4 expression was validated by the immunostaining of Oct4. Cell morphology was changed to sharp, and both proliferation and migration abilities were enhanced in Oct4-overexpressed cells. Real-time RT-PCR results showed that p16, Bcl2 and Myc were upregulated in Oct4-overexpressed cells. Somatic cell nuclear transfer was performed using Oct4-overexpressed cells, and the development of Oct4 embryos was compared with that of wild-type cloned embryos. The cleavage and blastocyst formation rates were improved in the Oct4 embryos. Interestingly, blastocyst formation of the Oct4 embryos was observed as early as day 5 in culture, while blastocysts were observed from day 6 in wild-type cloned embryos. In conclusion, the overexpression of Oct4 enhanced the proliferation of both porcine fibroblasts and embryos.
The presence of glutamine (Gln) in in vitro maturation (IVM) and in vitro culture (IVC) medium is a more potent factor for improving porcine oocyte and embryo development than other amino acids. However Gln is inherently unstable and spontaneously breaks down into ammonia, and therefore interferes with proper development. To avoid this adverse effect, Gln was replaced in the present study with its stable dipeptide derivative alanyl-glutamine (Ala-Gln) and the effects of this replacement on porcine IVM and IVC were evaluated. Replacement of Gln with Ala-Gln during IVM did not improve nuclear maturation, however numbers of early cleaved embryos were significantly increased after activation. Blastocyst formation rates were also significantly improved by using Ala-Gln during IVM. Replacement of Gln with Ala-Gln during IVC significantly increased total cell numbers in blastocysts. Blastocyst formation rate was also significantly higher when Ala-Gln was used in both IVM and IVC. In conclusion, the use of Ala-Gln rather than Gln gives better results for development in both porcine IVM and IVC.
In this study, we investigated the effect of two oxygen concentrations (5 and 20%) during in vitro maturation (IVM) and during in vitro culture (IVC) on porcine embryo development and analysed differences in gene expression between cumulus–oocyte complexes matured under 5 or 20% oxygen and the resulting blastocysts cultured under 5% or 20% oxygen following parthenogenetic activation. There was no significant difference in oocyte maturation rate. However, the numbers of resulting blastocysts were significantly increased in the 5% IVC group compared with the 20% IVC group. Moreover, the M20C5 treatment group (23.01%) supported greater blastocyst development compared with the M5C5 (14.32%), M5C20 (10.30%), and M20C20 (17.88%) groups. However, total cell numbers were not significantly different among groups. According to mRNA abundance data of multiple genes, each treatment altered the expression of genes in different patterns. GLUT1, G6PD and LDHA were up-regulated in cumulus cells that had been matured in low oxygen, suggesting a higher glucose uptake and an increase in anaerobic glycolysis, whereas cyclin B1 (CCNB) and MnSOD (Mn-superoxide dismutase) were upregulated in cumulus cells that had been matured in high oxygen, which suggests a higher activity of mitosis-promoting factor and antioxidant response. In spite of these differential effects on cumulus cells, oocytes could mature normally regardless of different oxygen concentrations. Therefore, it can be concluded that high oxygen concentration during in vitro maturation and low oxygen during in vitro culture may alter the expression of multiple genes related to oocyte competence and significantly improves embryo development (p < 0.05) but not blastocyst quality.
The oocyte is known from recent studies in the mouse, cow, sheep and human to be a central regulator of follicular cell function. However, in the pig, little information is known about the regulation of cumulus expansion by oocyte-secreted factors and oocyte quality. We investigated the possible effects of oocyte-secreted factors during in vitro maturation on cumulus expansion and on porcine oocytes as judged by subsequent embryonic development after parthenogenetic activation. Cumulus–oocyte complexes (COC) from antral follicles of pig ovaries collected from a local abattoir were divided into control and treatment groups and were cultured in tissue culture medium 199 supplemented with follicle-stimulating hormone. Treatment groups consisted of increasing numbers of denuded oocytes (DO) co-cultured with COC (at ratios of COC to DO of 1:1, 1:2, 1:3, 1:4 and 1:5). After incubation for 44 h, cumulus expansion and maturation rates were assessed and oocytes were activated parthenogenetically. Cumulus expansion in the 1 COC:4 DO and 1 COC:5 DO groups was low and altered because full dispersion of the outer layer did not occur. Cell viability was not affected, as measured by the automated cell counter, but scanning electron microscopy revealed only a scanty extracellular matrix. Blastocyst rate was significantly higher in the 1 COC:4 DO (34.4%) and in the 1 COC:5 DO (34.9%) groups (p < 0.05) when compared with other groups. Maturation rate, cleavage rate and total cell number showed no significant difference between control and treatment groups. Amplification by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) showed up-regulation of growth differentiation factor 9 (GDF9) in the cumulus cells in the 1 COC:4 DO group at 44 h. We conclude that denuded porcine oocytes could improve the maturation of COC as evidenced by increased blastocyst development in the 1 COC:4 DO, even though cumulus expansion was poor. This improvement could be a result of the GDF9 up-regulation.
In non-human primates, it is difficult to collect sufficient numbers of oocytes for producing identical embryos by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). Because of this factor, inter-species SCNT (iSCNT) using heterospecific oocytes is an attractive alternative approach. The objective of this study was to produce iSCNT-derived blastocysts using enucleated cow (Bos taurus) metaphase II oocytes and adult rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) fibroblasts. Ear skin tissue from a 6-year-old male rhesus monkey was collected by biopsy and fibroblasts were isolated. Immature cumulus–oocyte complexes from cow ovaries were collected and matured in vitro in Medium 199. The enucleated oocytes were reconstructed with rhesus monkey fibroblasts and iSCNT embryos were cultured in modified synthetic oviduct fluid in an atmosphere of 5–5.5% CO2 under various conditions (37–39 °C and 5–20% O2) to examine the effects of in vitro culture conditions. Most embryos were arrested at the 8- or 16-cell stage and only three blastocysts were derived in this way using iSCNT from a total of 1153 cultured activated embryos (0.26% production rate). Two of the three blastocysts were used for counting nuclear numbers using bisbenzimide staining, which were 51 and 24. The other iSCNT-derived blastocyst was used to analyse mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) by PCR, and both rhesus monkey and cow mtDNA were detected. Although the development rate was extremely low, this study established that iSCNT using two phylogenetically distant species, including a primate, could produce blastocysts. With improvements in the development rate, it may be possible to produce rhesus monkey iSCNT-derived embryonic stem cell lines for studies on primate nucleus and cow mitochondria interaction mechanisms.
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.
Treatment with 6-dimethylaminopurine (6-DMAP) or demecolcine (DE) for several (at least 2) hours after artificial activation is known to improve in vitro development of porcine embryos. However, several reports have also shown that treatments with these chemicals induce apoptosis. The aim of this study was to find out whether short-term treatment with 6-DMAP and DE combined with electrical or thimerosal/dithiothreitol (Thi/DTT) activation had a beneficial effect on development of parthenogenetically activated porcine oocytes. We additionally treated embryos with 6-DMAP (2 mM) and/or DE (0.4 μg/ml) for a short time (40 min) after an electrical pulse (EP) or Thi/DTT. As a result, short-term treatment with 6-DMAP and DE successfully induced development of electrically or Thi/DTT-activated porcine parthenogenetic embryos with no significant difference in cleavage rate, blastocyst formation rate and total cell number compared with long-term treatment. To find optimal activation protocol, cleavage rate, blastocyst formation rate and total cell number were compared between EP and Thi/DTT treatments. Thi/DTT + 6-DMAP + DE showed significantly higher blastocyst formation rate (36.1 ± 3.5%) and total cell number (46.9 ± 1.0) than other groups (EP + 6-DMAP + DE, EP + Thi/DTT + 6-DMAP + DE: 23.3 ± 3.0%, 42.2 ± 1.1 and 17.2 ± 2.7%, 36.7 ± 1.5, respectively). In conclusion, this study demonstrates that short-term treatment with 6-DMAP and DE is as effective as the standard long-term treatment and Thi/DTT + 6-DMAP + DE exerts a synergistic effect.
The miniature pig is regarded as a better organ donor breed for xenotransplantation than other pig breeds because the size of their organs is similar to that of humans. To improve efficiency of cloned miniature pig production, we analysed the effect of breed difference between donor cells and embryo recipients on pregnancy rate and delivery rate. Cloned porcine embryos derived from domestic or miniature pig donor cells were transferred to domestic or miniature recipient pigs. Delivery rate was significantly higher when embryos reconstructed with miniature pig donor cells were transferred to miniature pig recipients as compared with that of embryos transferred to domestic pig recipients. However, pregnancy rates were similar between the two groups. The breed of donor cells, but not of embryo recipients, seems likely to affect litter size. From a 13 610 gene cDNA microarray, 1551 (11.7%) genes showed significantly different levels of expression between the fetuses of the two breeds. Vascular endothelial growth factor and c-kit ligand genes related to implantation and maintenance of pregnancy were significantly down-regulated in miniature pigs. In conclusion, the differential gene expression in fetuses interferes with proper fetal/maternal interactions, and results in late-stage pregnancy loss. Our results indicate that the miniature pig is the preferred embryo recipient breed than domestic pig for producing cloned miniature piglets.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) signalling via tyrosine kinase B receptors may play an important role in ovarian development and function. It has been reported that metformin elevates the activity of Tyrosine kinase receptors and may amplify BDNF signalling. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of BDNF during in vitro maturation (IVM) and/or in vitro culture (IVC) (Experiment 1), and to evaluate the collaborative effect of BDNF and metformin treatment on the developmental competence of bovine in vitro fertilized (IVF) embryos (Experiment 2). In Experiment 1, BDNF, which was added to our previously established IVM systems, significantly increased the proportions of MII oocytes at both 10 ng/ml (86.7%) and 100 ng/ml (85.4%) compared with the control (64.0%). However, there was no statistically significant difference in blastocyst development between the control or BDNF-supplemented groups. In Experiment 2, in order to investigate the effect of BDNF (10 ng/ml) and/or metformin (10−5 M) per se, TCM-199 without serum and hormones was used as the control IVM medium. The BDNF (48.3%) and BDNF plus metformin (56.5%) significantly enhanced the proportions of MII oocytes compared with the control (34.4%). Although, BDNF or metformin alone had no effect in embryo development, BDNF plus metformin significantly improved early embryo development to the 8–16-cell stage compared with the control (16.5 vs. 5.5%). In conclusion, the combination of BDNF and metformin may have a collaborative effect during the IVM period. These results could further contribute to the establishment of a more efficient bovine in vitro embryo production system.
Cycle synchronization of donor cells in the G0/G1 stage is a crucial step for successful somatic cell nuclear transfer. In the present report, we evaluated the effects of contact inhibition, serum starvation and the reagents – dimethyl sulphoxide (DMSO), roscovitine and cycloheximide (CHX) – on synchronization of canine fibroblasts at the G0/G1 stage. Ear fibroblast cells were collected from a beagle dog, placed into culture and used for analysis at passages three to eight. The population doubling time was 36.5 h. The proportion of G0/G1 cells was significantly increased by contact inhibition (77.1%) as compared with cycling cells (70.1%); however, extending the duration of culture did not induce further synchronization. After 24 h of serum starvation, cells were effectively synchronized at G0/G1 (77.1%). Although synchronization was further increased gradually after 24 h and even showed significant difference after 72 h (82.8%) of starvation, the proportion of dead cells also significantly increased after 24 h. The percentage of cells at the G0/G1 phase was increased (as compared with controls) after 72 h treatment with DMSO (76.1%) and after 48 h treatment with CHX (73.0%) or roscovitine (72.5%). However, the rate of cell death was increased after 24 and 72 h of treatment with DMSO and CHX, respectively. Thus, we recommend the use of roscovitine for cell cycle synchronization of canine ear fibroblasts as a preparatory step for SCNT.
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