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Androgenetic embryonic stem (AgES) cells offer a possible tool for patient-specific pluripotent stem cells that will benefit genomic imprinting studies and clinic applications. However, the difficulty in producing androgenetic embryos and the unbalanced expression of imprinted genes make the therapeutic applicability of AgES cells uncertain. In this study, we produced androgenetic embryos by injecting two sperm into an enucleated metaphase II (MII) oocyte. By this method, 88.48% of oocytes survived after injection, and 20.24% of these developed to the blastocyst stage. We successfully generated AgES cell lines from the androgenetic embryos and assayed the expression of imprinted genes in the cell lines. We found that the morphological characteristics of AgES cells were similar to that of fertilized embryonic stem cells (fES), such as expression of key pluripotent markers, and generation of cell derivatives representing all three germ layers following in vivo and in vitro differentiation. Furthermore, activation of paternal imprinted genes was detected, H19, ASC12 and Tss3 in AgES cell activation levels were lower while other examined genes showed no significant difference to that of fES cells. Interestingly, among examined maternal imprinted genes, only Mest and Igf2 were significantly increased, while levels of other detected genes were no different to that of fES cells. These results demonstrated that activation of some paternal imprinted genes, as well as recovery of maternal imprinted genes, was present in AgES cells. We differentiated AgES cells into a beating embryoid body in vitro, and discovered that the AgES cells did not show significant higher efficiency in myocardial differentiation potential.
The efficiency of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) cloning remains low, thus limiting the applications of this technique. In this study, we used immunochemistry and confocal microscopy to detect the microtubule component, β-tubulin, in SCNT, parthenogenetic (PA), and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) embryos before the first mitotic division. β-Tubulin is the component subunit of microtubule, which plays critical roles in regulating localization of cellular organelles, and the growth, maturation and fertilization of oocytes. Our results demonstrated similar changes of spindle patterns in PA and ICSI embryos. The second meiotic division resumed 1 h post-treatment, and the cytoplasmic asters (CAs) disappeared. After about 4–6 h of treatment, pronuclei formed with the midbodies connecting each other. Meanwhile, the CAs reappeared and a microtubule network developed in the cytoplasm. However, SCNT embryos showed abnormal multipolar spindles, and the pseudopronuclei that contained many nucleoli existed after 6 h of SrCl2 activation. Enucleated oocytes alone did not form spindle-like structures when they were artificially activated for 6 h, indicating that somatic cell chromosomes might be necessary for spindle formation in SCNT embryos. These results demonstrated abnormal changes of β-tubulin in mouse SCNT embryos, compared with PA and ICSI embryos.
Morphogenesis and identification of embryonic differentiation in porcine embryos are crucial issues for developmental biology and laboratory animal science. The current paper presents a study on the asynchronous development of hatched porcine embryos from days 7 to 13 post-insemination. Examination of semi-thin sections of the hypoblast showed that it had characteristics similar to those of the mouse anterior visceral endoderm during embryonic disc formation. Also, a cavity appeared in the epiblast, which was similar to a mouse proamniotic cavity. With the gradual disappearance of Rauber's layer, the cavity opened and contacted the external environment directly, all of which formed the embryonic disc. To confirm the differentiation characteristics, we performed immunohistochemical analyses and showed that GATA6 was detected clearly in parietal endoderm cells during embryonic disc establishment. OCT4 was expressed in the inner cell mass (ICM) and trophoblast of hatched blastocysts and in the epiblast during formation of the embryonic disc. However, OCT4 showed comparatively decreased expression in the posterior embryonic disc, primitive streak and migrating cells. SOX2 was present in the ICM and epiblast. Therefore, both SOX2 and OCT4 can be used as markers of pluripotent cells in the porcine embryonic disc. At the start of gastrulation, staining revealed VIMENTIN in the posterior of the embryonic disc, primitive streak and in migrating cells that underlay the embryonic disc and was also expressed in epiblast cells located in the anterior primitive streak. Together with serial sections of embryos stained by whole mount immunohistochemistry, the mesoderm differentiation pattern was shown as an ingression movement that took place at the posterior of the embryonic disc and with bilateral migration along the embryonic disc borders.
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