The H19 gene is imprinted with preferential expression from the maternal allele. The putative imprinting control region for this locus is hypermethylated on the repressed paternal allele. Although maternal-specific expression of H19 is observed in mouse blastocysts that develop in vivo, biallelic expression has been documented in embryos and embryonic stem cells experimentally manipulated by in vitro culture conditions. In this study the effect of culture on imprinted H19 expression and methylation was determined. After culture of 2-cell embryos to the blastocyst stage in Whitten's medium, the normally silent paternal H19 allele was aberrantly expressed, whereas little paternal expression was observed following culture in KSOM containing amino acids (KSOM+AA). Analysis of the methylation status of a CpG dinucleotide located in the upstream imprinting control region revealed a loss in methylation in embryos cultured in Whitten's medium but not in embryos cultured in KSOM+AA. Thus, H19 expression and methylation were adversely affected by culture in Whitten's medium, while the response of H19 to culture in KSOM+AA approximated more closely the in vivo situation. It is unlikely that biallelic expression of H19 following culture in Whitten's medium is a generalized effect of lower methylation levels, since the amount of DNA methyltransferase activity and the spatial distribution of Dnmt1 protein were similar in in vivo-derived and cultured embryos. Moreover, imprinted expression of Snrpn was maintained following culture in either medium, indicating that not all imprinted genes are under the same stringent imprinting controls. The finding that culture conditions can dramatically, but selectively, affect the expression of imprinted genes provides a model system for further study of the linkage between DNA methylation and gene expression.
Abstract Testes from adult and prepubertal mice lacking the Desert hedgehog (Dhh) gene were examined in order to describe further the role of Dhh in spermatogenesis because, in a previous report, Dhh-null male mice were shown to be sterile. Dhh is a signaling molecule expressed by Sertoli cells. Its receptor, patched (Ptc), has been previously localized to Leydig cells and is herein described as being localized also to peritubular cells. Two phenotypes of the mice were observed: masculinized (7.5% of Dhh-null males) and feminized (92.5%), both of which displayed abnormal peritubular tissue and severely restricted spermatogenesis. Testes from adult feminized animals lacked adult-type Leydig cells and displayed numerous undifferentiated fibroblastic cells in the interstitium that produced abundant collagen. The basal lamina, normally present between the myoid cells and Sertoli cells, was focally absent. We speculate that the abnormal basal lamina contributed to other characteristics, such as extracordal gon...
Successful cryopreservation of mammalian oocytes would provide a steady source of materials for nuclear transfer and in vitro embryo production. Our goal was to develop an effective vitrification protocol to cryopreserve bovine oocytes for research and practice of parthenogenetic activation, in vitro fertilization, and nuclear transfer. Bovine oocytes matured in vitro were placed in 4% ethylene glycol (EG) in TCM 199 plus 20% fetal bovine serum (FBS) at 39Â°C for 12â15 min, and then transferred to a vitrification solution (35% EG, 5% polyvinyl-pyrrolidone, 0.4 M trehalose in TCM 199 and 20% FBS). Oocytes were vitrified in microdrops on a precooled (â150Â°C) metal surface (solid-surface vitrification). The vitrified microdrops were stored in liquid nitrogen and were either immediately thawed or were thawed after storage for 2â3 wk. Surviving oocytes were subjected to 1) parthenogenetic activation, 2) in vitro fertilization, or 3) nuclear transfer with cultured adult fibroblast cells. Treated oocytes were cultured in KSOM containing BSA or FBS for 9 to 10 days. Embryo development rates were recorded daily and morphologically high-quality blastocysts were cryopreserved for nuclear transfer-derived embryos at Day 7 or Day 8 of culture. Immediate survival of vitrified/thawed oocytes varied between 77% and 86%. Cleavage and blastocyst development rates of vitrified oocytes following in vitro fertilization or activation were lower than those of the controls. For nuclear transfer, however, vitrified oocytes supported embryonic development as equally well as fresh oocytes.
The low efficiency of animal production using somatic cell nuclear transfer procedures is considered to be the result of an incomplete reprogramming of the donor somatic cell nucleus, which leads to a lack of, or abnormal expression of developmentally important genes. However, our current understanding of the process of somatic cell nuclear reprogramming and its effect on gene expression is limited. In this study, we compare the transcription patterns of six developmentally important genes, Oct4, IL6, FGF2, FGF4, FGFr2, and gp130 in single in vitro fertilized (IVF) and nuclear transfer embryos reconstructed using granulosa cells for the donor nuclei. Similar patterns of transcription were detected for Oct4, FGF2, and gp130 in IVF and nuclear transfer embryos during the preimplantation stages of development. However, a number of morula- and blastocyst-stage embryos derived from nuclear transfer procedures showed abnormal transcription of IL6, FGF4, and FGFr2. Previous studies have demonstrated that these three genes play an important role in implantation, early postimplantation development, or both in the mouse. Therefore, the aberrant transcription patterns detected in nuclear transfer embryos may lead to a reduction in embryo viability.
Although it is generally accepted that relatively high efficiencies of somatic cell cloning in mammals can be achieved by using donor cells from the female reproductive system (e.g., cumulus/granulosa, oviduct, and mammary gland cells), there is little information on the possibility of using male-specific somatic cells as donor cells. In this study we injected the nucleus of immature mouse Sertoli cells isolated from the testes of newborn (Days 3â10) males into enucleated mature oocytes in order to examine the ability of their nuclei to support embryonic development. After activation of the oocytes that had received the freshly recovered immature Sertoli cells, some developed into the morula/blastocyst stage, depending on the age of the donor cells (22.0â37.4%). When transferred into pseudopregnant females, 7 (3.3%, 7 of 215) developed into normal pups at term. Nuclear transfer of immature Sertoli cells after 1 wk in culture also produced normal pups after embryo transfer (3.1%, 2 of 65). Even after cryopreservation in a conventional cryoprotectant solution, their ability as donor cells was maintained, as demonstrated by the birth of cloned young (6.7%, 7 of 105). Immature Sertoli cells transfected with green fluorescent protein gene also supported embryo development into morulae/blastocysts, which showed specific fluorescence. This study demonstrates that immature Sertoli cells, male-specific somatic cells, are potential donors for somatic cell cloning.
Histometrical evaluation of the testis was performed in 36 Piau pigs from birth to 16 mo of age to investigate Sertoli cell, Leydig cell, and germ cell proliferation. In addition, blood samples were taken in seven animals from 1 wk of age to adulthood to measure plasma levels of FSH and testosterone. Sertoli cell proliferation in pigs shows two distinct phases. The first occurs between birth and 1 mo of age, when the number of Sertoli cells per testis increases approximately sixfold. The second occurs between 3 and 4 mo of age, or just before puberty, which occurs between 4 to 5 mo of age, when Sertoli cells almost double their numbers per testis. The periods of Sertoli cell proliferation were concomitant with high FSH plasma levels and prominent elongation in the length of seminiferous cord/tubule per testis. Leydig cell volume increased markedly from birth to 1 mo of age and just before puberty. In general, during the first 5 mo after birth, Leydig cell volume growth showed a similar pattern as that observed for testosterone plasma levels. Also, the proliferation of Leydig cells per testis before puberty showed a pattern similar to that observed for Sertoli cells. However, Leydig cell number per testis increased up to 16 mo of age. Substantial changes in Leydig cell size were also observed after the pubertal period. From birth to 4 mo of age, germ cells proliferated continuously, increasing their number approximately two- to fourfold at each monthly interval. A dramatic increase in germ cells per cross-section of seminiferous tubule was observed from 4 to 5 mo of age; their number per tubule cross-section stabilized after 8 mo. To our knowledge, this is the first longitudinal study reporting the pattern of Sertoli cell, germ cell, and Leydig cell proliferative activity in pigs from birth to adulthood and the first study to correlate these events with plasma levels of FSH and testosterone.
The natural killer (NK) cells that are present in the uterine mucosa (decidua) during early pregnancy have a distinctive phenotype, CD56 bright CD16 â . These cells have previously been shown to proliferate and be activated by interleukin (IL)-2. However, IL-2 is absent from the decidua and placenta, and we have therefore investigated whether IL-15 is present in the uterus and can act on decidual NK cells. Both IL-15 mRNA and protein were found in a variety of cells but particularly in decidual macrophages. IL-15 induced a proliferative response in decidual NK cells that was blocked by anti-IL-15 and was augmented by stem cell factor. The cytolytic activity of decidual NK cells against K562 was augmented. Interestingly, in contrast to IL-2, although activation with IL-15 resulted in some killing of JEG-3 choriocarcinoma cells, normal trophoblast cells remained resistant to lysis. These findings suggest that IL-15 is a candidate cytokine responsible for NK cell proliferation in vivo in the progesterone-dominated secretory endometrium and early decidua.
Abstract Leptin is a polypeptide hormone that aids in the regulation of body weight and energy homeostasis and is linked to a variety of reproductive processes in both animals and humans. Thus, leptin may help regulate ovarian development and steroidogenesis and serve as either a primary signal initiating puberty or as a permissive regulator of sexual maturation. Perhaps significantly, peripheral leptin concentrations, adjusted for adiposity, are dramatically higher in females than in males throughout life. During primate pregnancy, maternal levels that arise from adipose stores and perhaps the placenta increase with advancing gestational age. Proposed physiological roles for leptin in pregnancy include the regulation of conceptus growth and development, fetal/placental angiogenesis, embryonic hematopoiesis, and hormone biosynthesis within the maternal-fetoplacental unit. The specific localization of both leptin and its receptor in the syncytiotrophoblast implies autocrine and/or paracrine relationships i...
The human DAZ gene family is expressed in germ cells and consists of a cluster of nearly identical DAZ ( deleted in azoospermia ) genes on the Y chromosome and an autosomal homolog, DAZL ( DAZ -like). Only the autosomal gene is found in mice. Y-chromosome deletions that encompass the DAZ genes are a common cause of spermatogenic failure in men, and autosomal homologs of DAZ are essential for testicular germ cell development in mice and Drosophila. Previous studies have reported that mouse DAZL protein is strictly cytoplasmic and that human DAZ protein is restricted to postmeiotic cells. By contrast, we report here that human DAZ and human and mouse DAZL proteins are present in both the nuclei and cytoplasm of fetal gonocytes and in spermatogonial nuclei. The proteins relocate to the cytoplasm during male meiosis. Further observations using human tissues indicate that, unlike DAZ, human DAZL protein persists in spermatids and even spermatozoa. These results, combined with findings in diverse species, suggest that DAZ family proteins function in multiple cellular compartments at multiple points in male germ cell development. They may act during meiosis and much earlier, when spermatogonial stem cell populations are established.
Development of outbred CF1 mouse zygotes in vitro was studied in a chemically defined, protein-free medium both with and without amino acids. The addition of amino acids to protein-free potassium simplex optimized medium (KSOM) had little effect on the proportion of embryos that developed at least to the zona-enclosed blastocyst stage. In contrast, amino acids stimulated very significantly, in a dilution-dependent way, the proportion of blastocysts that at least partially or completely hatched. Amino acids also stimulated cell proliferation in both the trophectoderm and inner cell mass (ICM) cells, at rates that favored proliferation of cells in the ICM; had no effect on the incidence of cell death (oncosis or apoptosis); and improved development of the basement membranes, which form on the blastocoelic surface of the trophectoderm and between the primitive endoderm and the primitive ectoderm. Thus, KSOM, supplemented with amino acids but containing no protein supplements, supports development of a newly fertilized ovum to the late blastocyst stage, in which its normal, three-dimensional structure is preserved and in which the ICM has been partitioned into the primitive ectoderm and primitive endoderm.