Recent studies have demonstrated that human spermatozoa are capable of generating reactive oxygen species and that this activity is significantly accelerated in cases of defective sperm function. In view of the pivotal role played by lipid peroxidation in mediating free radical damage to cells, we have examined the relationships between reactive oxygen species production, lipid peroxidation, and the functional competence of human spermatozoa. Using malondialdehyde production in the presence of ferrous ion promoter as an index of lipid peroxidation, we have shown that lipid peroxidation is significantly accelerated in populations of defective spermatozoa exhibiting high levels of reactive oxygen species production or in normal cells stimulated to produce oxygen radicals by the ionophore, A23187. The functional consequences of lipid peroxidation included a dose-dependent reduction in the ability of human spermatozoa to exhibit sperm oocyte-fusion, which could be reversed by the inclusion of a chain-breaking antioxidant, alpha-tocopherol. Low levels of lipid peroxidation also had a slight enhancing effect on the generation of reactive oxygen species in response to ionophore, without influencing the steady-state activity. At higher levels of lipid peroxidation, both the basal level of reactive oxygen species production and the response to A23187 were significantly diminished. In contrast, lipid peroxidation had a highly significant, enhancing effect on the ability of human spermatozoa to bind to both homologous and heterologous zonae pellucidae via mechanisms that could again be reversed by alpha-tocopherol. These results are consistent with a causative role for lipid peroxidation in the etiology of defective sperm function and also suggest a possible physiological role for the reactive oxygen species generated by human spermatozoa in mediating sperm-zona interaction.
Nuclear transfer was evaluated in early porcine embryos. Pronuclear stage embryos were centrifuged, treated with cytoskeletal inhibitors, and subsequently enucleated. Pronuclei containing karyoplasts were placed in the perivitelline space of the enucleated zygote and fused to the enucleated zygote with electrofusion. The resulting pronuclear exchange embryos were either monitored for cleavage in vitro (9/13 cleaved and contained 2 nuclei after 24 h, 69%) or for in vivo development. In vivo development after 3 days resulted in 14/15 (93%) of the embryos transferred cleaving to the greater than or equal to 4-cell stage and after 7 days 6/16 (38%) reaching the expanded blastocyst stage. A total of 56 pronuclear exchange embryos were allowed to go to term, and 7 piglets were born. A similar manipulation procedure was used to transfer 2-, 4- or 8-cell nuclei to enucleated, activated meiotic metaphase II oocytes. Enucleation was effective in 74% (36/49) of the contemporary oocytes. Activation was successful in 81% (37/46) of nonmanipulated but pulsed oocytes versus 13% (4/31) of control oocytes (p less than 0.01). After 6 days in vivo, 9% (1/11) of the 2-cell nuclei, 8% (7/83) of the 4-cell nuclei, and 19% (11/57) of the 8-cell nuclei transferred to enucleated, activated meiotic metaphase II oocytes resulted in development to the compact morula or blastocyst stage (p less than 0.01). A total of 88 nuclear transfer embryos were transferred to recipient gilts for continued development. A single piglet was born after the transfer of a 4-cell nucleus to an enucleated, activated metaphase II oocyte and subsequent in vivo development.
Bovine sperm incubated with heparin for 7.5-8.5 h underwent an acrosome reaction in the absence but not the presence of glucose (5 mM). When sperm were incubated under capacitating conditions with heparin for 4 h, glucose inhibited sperm penetration of oocytes (p less than 0.01) and lysophosphatidylcholine (LC) induced acrosome reactions. Addition of glucose for the last 0.25 h of a 4.25-h incubation with heparin had no effect on ability of sperm to acrosome-react in response to LC. Nonmetabolizable sugars 3-O-methyl glucose, 2-deoxyglucose, sucrose, and sorbitol did not inhibit capacitation as judged by sperm sensitivity to LC or fertilization (p greater than 0.05), but capacitation was inhibited by the glycolyzable substrates glucose, mannose, and fructose (p less than 0.05). The glycolytic inhibitor, fluoride, reversed glucose inhibition of capacitation in a dose-dependent manner similar to its effect on glucose uptake by sperm. Extracellular pH declined from 7.4 to 7.2 during a 4-h incubation of sperm with heparin and glucose. The decline of extracellular pH during sperm incubation with glucose did not affect capacitation, since only an extracellular pH below 7.02 inhibited capacitation. The intracellular pH (pHi) of sperm increased 0.40 units over a 5-h incubation under capacitating conditions. The change in pHi was inhibited by glucose. Incubation of sperm with heparin and glucose for 12 h resulted in capacitated sperm as judged by both LC sensitivity and fertilizing ability. These studies demonstrate that glycolyzable substrates delay capacitation of bovine sperm and suggest the effect is in delaying an alkalinization of pHi.
In cows, protein synthesis is required for germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD). This study examines more closely the need for protein synthesis and the nuclear changes in the bovine oocyte during 24 h of culture. Bovine oocytes with compact and complete cumulus were washed and incubated in groups of 10 for up to 24 h in 50-microliters drops of TCM-199 supplemented with follicle-stimulating hormone (NIAMADD, 0.5 micrograms/ml), luteinizing hormone (LH) NIAMADD, 5 micrograms/ml), estradiol-17 beta (1 microgram/ml), pyruvate (20 microM), and 10% heat-treated fetal calf serum. Medium was overlaid with paraffin oil. Oocytes (n = 891) were fixed at the end of each 3-h interval from 0 to 24 h of culture, or at 24 h after addition of cycloheximide (10 micrograms/ml at 10 different times during maturation (0, 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 h; n = 175). At each time point, the chromosomal status of oocytes was evaluated, frequencies were computed, and the time spent on each step was determined. The germinal vesicle (GV) was present from 0 to 6.6 h, GVBD at 6.6 to 8.0 h, chromatin condensation at 8.0 to 10.3 h, metaphase I at 10.3 to 15.4 h, anaphase I at 15.4 to 16.6, telophase I at 16.6 to 18.0 h, and metaphase II at 18.0 to 24 h. Cycloheximide blocked oocyte maturation at GVBD, if added from 0 to 3 h; at chromatin condensation, if present from 6 to 24 h; and at metaphase I, when present from 9 to 12 h.
Inhibin, a glycoprotein that preferentially suppresses follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) secretion, has been isolated from follicular fluid as a heterodimer of two dissimilar subunits linked by disulphide bonds. The larger subunit is termed alpha and the smaller is designated beta. Two forms of inhibin termed A and B have been isolated, the differences being due to variations in the amino acid sequence of the beta-subunit; Inhibin A consists of alpha-beta and Inhibin B of alpha-beta B. Dimers of the beta-subunit, termed activins, have also been found in follicular fluid; these stimulate pituitary FSH secretion. Inhibin is produced in the female by the granulosa cell and corpus luteum under the control of FSH and luteinizing hormone (LH), respectively. The levels in serum rise to peak at mid-cycle and in the mid-luteal phase of the human menstrual cycle, and decline prior to menstruation. In pregnancy, the late-luteal phase decline in inhibin does not occur and the levels increase slowly. Studies suggest that the levels in pregnancy arise from an embryonic source, particularly the placenta. In the male, inhibin is produced by the Sertoli cells under the control of FSH by mechanisms involving cyclic adenosine 3', 5'-monophosphate. Testosterone exerts a minor inhibitory control at supraphysiological levels (10(-5) M), but human chorionic gonadotropin stimulation results paradoxically in a rise in serum inhibin levels. Disruption of spermatogenesis in the rat by cryptorchidism, heat treatment, or efferent duct ligation results in a decline in inhibin levels and a rise in FSH levels, findings consistent with the negative feedback action of inhibin on FSH secretion. As well as their roles in the reproductive system, inhibin and activin have more widespread actions in the haemopoietic, immune and nervous systems as evidenced by the finding of mRNA for its subunits in a range of tissues. Other studies have shown actions on erythroid differentiation and on mitotic activity in thymocytes. These actions suggest that inhibin and activin may function as growth factors as well as regulators of FSH.
Oviduct fluid collected from chronically cannulated oviducts of heifers was evaluated for its effect on capacitation of bovine sperm in vitro. Capacitation was determined by the ability of sperm to fertilize bovine oocytes in vitro and to undergo an acrosome reaction (AR) upon exposure to lysophosphatidylcholine (LC). After incubation of sperm with 0-25% (v/v) estrual oviduct fluid (collected +/- 1 day from estrus) for 4 h, addition of LC (100 micrograms/ml) for an additional 0.25 h resulted in an increasing percentage of acrosome-reacted sperm as the concentration of oviduct fluid increased. Sperm incubated 4 h with 25% estrual oviduct fluid fertilized more oocytes than sperm incubated in medium alone (p less than 0.05) but was not different from sperm incubated with 10 micrograms/ml heparin (p greater than 0.05). Glucose inhibited the ability of LC to induce ARs in sperm incubated 4 h with heparin or estrual oviduct fluid. Incubation of sperm with 25% oviduct fluid collected at various days over the estrous cycle demonstrated that peak capacitating activity was found at estrus but was also present +/- 1 day from estrus. The active capacitating factor in oviduct fluid was found to be heat stable. In addition, when extraction procedures were applied in sequential order, oviduct fluid capacitating activity was resistant to protease digestion, precipitable by ethanol, size-excluded by Sephadex G-25, and destroyed by nitrous acid. These results suggest that a heparin-like glycosaminoglycan from the oviduct is a potential in vivo capacitating agent in the bovine.
A full understanding of the acrosome reaction is central to understanding sperm function. Acrosomal status can be determined on living, motile sperm in only a few mammalian species. For other species, many light microscopic methods have been developed, including colored stains for bright-field microscopy, and probes for fluorescence microscopy. We review the existing methods and the criteria that should be considered in the choice of an assay.
The secretory protein profile from conceptuses collected from naturally mated ewes on Days 10, 12, 14, and 16 was characterized by two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (2D-PAGE) and fluorography. The presence of the anti-luteolysin ovine trophoblast protein-1 (oTP-1) in culture medium from Day 10 conceptuses was confirmed by fluorography, Western blotting, and radioimmunoassay (RIA). On each of the days studied, oTP-1 was the dominant secretory protein, and was secreted in increasing quantities as pregnancy progressed. In a second experiment, Day 6 embryos were transferred to either Day 6 (SR) or Day 4 (AR) recipients. Three mated ewes (P) received daily injections of 50 mg progesterone on Days 4-9. Controls consisted of 2 groups of pregnant ewes (D8 and D10). Conceptuses and ipsilateral endometrium were collected 4 days following transfer of conceptuses to SR and AR ewes, on Day 10 in P and D10 ewes, and on Day 8 in D8 ewes. Conceptus volume was estimated upon recovery from the uterus. Tissues were cultured with 35S-methionine, and the medium was analyzed for total and trichloroacetic acid-precipitable radiolabeled proteins. Levels of specific endometrial secretory proteins were determined after protein separation by 2D-PAGE and estimation of the radioactivity associated with discrete radiolabeled proteins on fluorographs. The concentration of oTP-1 in conceptus culture medium was estimated by RIA. Thirty endometrial proteins were investigated. All 30 proteins were present in endometrial cultures from SR, AR, D10, and P ewes, but 13 proteins were absent from D8 ewes. Levels of three proteins were higher in AR compared to D8 (p less than 0.05).
The immunogenicity and sperm receptor activity of five preparations of the major porcine zona pellucida glycoprotein family ZP3 (Mr = 55,000) were investigated. These included (1) ZP3, a chromatographically purified preparation of the 55,000 family; (2) ZP3 alpha, and (3) ZP3 beta, the two-component glycoproteins of the ZP3 family; (4) ZP3-EBGD, a partially deglycosylated preparation of ZP3 obtained by enzymatic treatment; and (5) ZP3-DG, a chemically deglycosylated preparation of ZP3. Titer studies using mouse and rabbit antisera prepared against each preparation yielded the following order of immunogenicity: ZP3 and ZP3 beta greater than ZP3-EBGD and ZP3 alpha greater than ZP3-DG, indicating that ZP3 becomes less immunogenic as more carbohydrate is removed. Pretreatment of intact zona with the various antisera prior to zona exposure to sperm resulted in an inhibition of sperm attachment to those zona treated with antibodies to ZP3, ZP3-EBGD, and ZP3 alpha. Pretreatment of zona with antibodies to ZP3 beta and ZP3-DG had no effect on sperm attachment. Studies involving pretreatment of boar sperm with the various ZP3 preparations prior to their use in a sperm-zona attachment assay and investigations involving displacement of the radiolabeled ZP3 preparations from sperm by unlabeled ZP3 preparations also yielded findings similar to the antibody studies. Collectively, these data indicate that ZP3 alpha probably functions as a zona receptor for boar sperm and that carbohydrate has an important role in maintaining the functional integrity of the ZP3 alpha glycoprotein.
Platelet-activating factor (PAF) exerts its actions through activation of specific membrane binding sites found in a variety of tissues, including hypothalamus and endometrium. PAF has been identified in several reproductive tissues (i.e. embryo, ovary, uterus, and spermatozoon). In the uterus, PAF levels are hormonally controlled, being elevated by progesterone and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Antagonists of PAF interfere with sperm function, ovulation, and implantation. The available evidence suggests that PAF may be an important physiological regulator in reproduction.