Mobilization of fatty acids from adipose tissue during metabolic stress will increase the amount of free fatty acids in blood and follicular fluid and, thus, may affect oocyte quality. In this in vitro study, the three predominant fatty acids in follicular fluid (saturated palmitic and stearic acid and unsaturated oleic acid) were presented to maturing oocytes to test whether fatty acids can affect lipid storage of the oocyte and developmental competence postfertilization. Palmitic and stearic acid had a dose-dependent inhibitory effect on the amount of fat stored in lipid droplets and a concomitant detrimental effect on oocyte developmental competence. Oleic acid, in contrast, had the opposite effect, causing an increase of lipid storage in lipid droplets and an improvement of oocyte developmental competence. Remarkably, the adverse effects of palmitic and stearic acid could be counteracted by oleic acid. These results suggest that the ratio and amount of saturated and unsaturated fatty acid is relevant for lipid storage in the maturing oocyte and that this relates to the developmental competence of maturing oocytes.
Assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are becoming increasingly prevalent and are generally considered to be safe medical procedures. However, evidence indicates that embryo culture may adversely affect the developmental potential and overall health of the embryo. One of the least studied but most important areas in this regard is the effects of embryo culture on epigenetic phenomena, and on genomic imprinting in particular, because assisted reproduction has been linked to development of the human imprinting disorders Angelman and Beckwith-Wiedemann syndromes. In this study, we performed side-by-side comparisons of five commercial embryo culture systems (KSO-Maa, Global, Human Tubal Fluid, Preimplantation 1/Multiblast, and G1v5PLUS/G2v5PLUS) in relation to a best-case (in vivo-derived embryos) and a worst-case (Whitten culture) scenario. Imprinted DNA methylation and expression were examined at three well-studied loci, H19, Peg3, and Snrpn, in mouse embryos cultured from the 2-cell to the blastocyst stage. We show that embryo culture in all commercial media systems resulted in imprinted methylation loss compared to in vivo-derived embryos, although some media systems were able to maintain imprinted methylation levels more similar to those of in vivo-derived embryos in comparison to embryos cultured in Whitten medium. However, all media systems exhibited loss of imprinted H19 expression comparable to that using Whitten medium. Combined treatment of superovulation and embryo culture resulted in increased perturbation of genomic imprinting, above that from culture alone, indicating that multiple ART procedures further disrupt genomic imprinting. These results suggest that time in culture and number of ART procedures should be minimized to ensure fidelity of genomic imprinting during preimplantation development.
HCO3- plays critically important roles during virtually the entire process of reproduction in mammals, including spermatogenesis, sperm capacitation, fertilization, and development of early stage embryos. Therefore, the acid-base balance in the male and female reproductive tracts must be finely modulated. The fluid milieu in the epididymis is acidic, containing very low concentration of HCO3-. In this acidic low HCO3- environment, mature sperm are rendered quiescent in the epididymis. In contrast, the luminal fluid in the female uterus and oviduct is alkaline, with very high concentration of HCO3- that is essential for sperm to fulfill fertilization. HCO3- transporter of solute carrier 4 (SLC4) and SLC26 families represent the major carriers for HCO3- transport across the plasma membrane. These transporters play critical roles in intracellular pH regulation and transepithelial HCO3- transport. The physiological roles of these transporters in mammalian reproduction are of fundamental interest to investigators. Here we review recent progress in understanding the expression of HCO3- transporters in reproductive tract tissues as well as the physiological roles of these transporters in mammalian reproduction.
Knowledge of the consequences of maternal obesity in human placental fatty acids (FA) transport and metabolism is limited. Animal studies suggest that placental uptake of maternal FA is altered by maternal overnutrition. We hypothesized that high maternal body mass index (BMI) affects human placental FA transport by modifying expression of key transporters. Full-term placentas were obtained by vaginal delivery from normal weight (BMI, 18.5-24.9 kg/m(2)) and obese (BMI > 30 kg/m(2)) women. Blood samples were collected from the mother at each trimester and from cord blood at delivery. mRNA and protein expression levels were evaluated with real-time RT-PCR and Western blotting. Lipoprotein lipase (LPL) activity was evaluated using enzyme fluorescence. In vitro linoleic acid transport was studied with isolated trophoblasts. Our results demonstrated that maternal obesity is associated with increased placental weight, decreased gestational age, decreased maternal high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels during the first and third trimesters, increased maternal triglyceride levels during the second and third trimesters, and increased maternal T3 levels during all trimesters, and decreased maternal cholesterol (CHOL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels during the third trimester; and increased newborn CHOL, LDL, apolipoprotein B100, and T3 levels. Increases in placental CD36 mRNA and protein expression levels, decreased SLC27A4 and FABP1 mRNA and protein and FABP3 protein expression, and increased LPL activity and decreased villus cytotrophoblast linoleic acid transport were also observed. No changes were seen in expression of PPARA, PPARD, or PPARG mRNA and protein. Overall this study demonstrated that maternal obesity impacts placental FA uptake without affecting fetal growth. These changes, however, could modify the fetus metabolism and its predisposition to develop diseases later in life.
MicroRNAs are a class of noncoding small RNAs that regulate the expression of nearly 30% of all the human genes and participate in all fundamental cell processes. Genome-wide analysis has revealed that human placenta expresses more than 600 miRNA species, including placenta-specific ones with high levels of expression. Comparative analysis also has revealed many differentially expressed miRNAs with either high or low levels of expression in human placentas from normal versus preeclamptic pregnancies, indicating an important role of miRNAs in normal and pathological placental physiology. Although limited information is currently available as to how miRNA regulates human placental development and function, there are studies suggesting that preeclampsia-associated differentially expressed miRNAs possess critical roles in regulating placental development and function via targeting specific genes with diverse known functions. Herein we summarize the current findings regarding the expression of placental miRNAs and their function, especially in the trophoblast cells. We have recently found that the angiogenesis-associated miR-17-family miRNAs are upregulated in preeclamptic compared with normotensive placentas and they target the ephrin-B2/Eph receptor B4 (EPHB4) system. Because ephrin-B2 and EPHB4 has been previously shown to play a crucial role in trophoblast invasion into maternal spiral artery and vascular patterning during early human placental development, the miR-17-ephrin-B2/EPHB4 pathway seems to be a novel miRNA pathway for regulating normal and aberrant placental development during preeclampsia.
The prolonged incubation of human spermatozoa in vitro was found to induce a loss of motility associated with the activation of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species generation in the absence of any change in mitochondrial membrane potential. The increase in mitochondrial free radical production was paralleled by a loss of protein thiols and a concomitant rise in the formation of 4-hydroxynonenal, an electrophilic product of lipid peroxidation that was found to directly suppress sperm movement. These results prompted a search for nucleophiles that could counteract the action of such cytotoxic aldehydes, as a means of ensuring the long-term survival of spermatozoa in vitro. Four nucleophilic compounds were consequently assessed (penicillamine, homocysteine, N-acetylcysteine, and mercaptosuccinate) in three species (human, rat, and horse). The results of this analysis revealed drug and species specificity in the manner in which these compounds affected sperm function, with penicillamine conferring the most consistent, effective support. This prosurvival effect was achieved downstream of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species generation and was associated with the stabilization of 4-hydroxynonenal generation, the preservation of sperm thiols, and a reduction in 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine formation. Theoretical calculations of Fe-S and Cu-S bond distances and corresponding binding energies suggested that the particular effectiveness of penicillamine may, in part, reflect the ability of this nucleophile to form stable complexes with transition metals that catalyze lipid peroxidation. The practical implications of these findings were indicated by the effective preservation of equine spermatozoa for 8 days at ambient temperature when the culture medium was supplemented with penicillamine.
Thousands of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been identified in mouse, rat, and human testes, some of which play important roles in testis development and spermatogenesis. However, systematic analysis of lncRNAs expressed in postnatal pig testes has not been reported. Thus, in this study, we present the expression and characterization of lncRNAs in immature (30-day-old [D30]) and mature (180-day-old [D180]) pig testes. A total of 90 440 168 (85.75%) and 97 001 700 (95.35%) 150-base-pair paired-end clean reads were generated in D30 and D180 cDNA libraries, respectively, using the Illumina HiSeq 4000 platform; 36 727 transcripts were assembled in those two libraries, 777 lncRNA transcripts from 752 lncRNA gene loci were identified using the highly stringent pipeline, and 101 of those lncRNA transcripts were significantly differentially expressed. Those lncRNAs shared some characteristics with other mammals, including fewer exons, shorter length and exon length, and lower expression level compared with those of protein-coding genes; 402 protein-coding genes (<10 kb) were found as nearest neighbors of 294 out of 752 lncRNA genes, and gene ontology enrichment showed that they were enriched in transcription-and development-related processes. Fifteen differentially expressed and 10 novel lncRNAs were randomly selected and validated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and reverse transcriptase PCR. In addition, one of the 10 novel lncRNAs was further confirmed using RACE clone technology. This study provides a catalog of porcine testes lncRNAs for further understanding their regulation roles in pig testis development and spermatogenesis.
So far, the characteristics of a good quality egg have been elusive, similar to the nature of the physiological, cellular, and molecular cues leading to its production both in vivo and in vitro. Current understanding highlights a strong and complex interdependence between the follicular cells and the gamete. Secreted factors induce cellular responses in the follicular cells, and direct exchange of small molecules from the cumulus cells to the oocyte through gap junctions controls meiotic arrest. Studying the interconnection between the cumulus cells and the oocyte, we previously demonstrated that the somatic cells also contribute transcripts to the gamete. Here, we show that these transcripts can be visualized moving down the transzonal projections (TZPs) to the oocyte, and that a time course analysis revealed progressive RNA accumulation in the TZPs, indicating that RNA transfer occurs before the initiation of meiosis resumption under a timetable fitting with the acquisition of developmental competence. A comparison of the identity of the nascent transcripts trafficking in the TZPs, with those in the oocyte increasing in abundance during maturation, and that are present on the oocyte's polyribosomes, revealed transcripts common to all three fractions, suggesting the use of transferred transcripts for translation. Furthermore, the removal of potential RNA trafficking by stripping the cumulus cells caused a significant reduction in maturation rates, indicating the need for the cumulus cell RNA transfer to the oocyte. These results offer a new perspective to the determinants of oocyte quality and female fertility, as well as provide insight that may eventually be used to improve in vitro maturation conditions.
Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) transports androgens and estrogens in blood and regulates their access to target tissues. Hepatic production of SHBG fluctuates throughout the life cycle and is influenced primarily by metabolic and hormonal factors. Genetic differences also contribute to interindividual variations in plasma SHBG levels. In addition to controlling the plasma distribution, metabolic clearance, and bioavailability of sex steroids, SHBG accumulates in the extravascular compartments of some tissues and in the cytoplasm of specific epithelial cells, where it exerts novel effects on androgen and estrogen action. In mammals, the gene-encoding SHBG is expressed primarily in the liver but also at low levels in other tissues, including the testis. In subprimate species, Shbg expression in Sertoli cells is under the control of follicle-stimulating hormone and produces the androgen-binding protein that influences androgen actions in the seminiferous tubules and epididymis. In humans, the SHBG gene is not expressed in Sertoli cells, but its expression in germ cells produces an SHBG isoform that accumulates in the acrosome. In fish, Shbg is produced by the liver but has a unique function in the gill as a portal for natural steroids and xenobiotics, including synthetic steroids. However, salmon have retained a second, poorly conserved Shbg gene that is expressed only in ovary, muscle, and gill and that likely exerts specialized functions in these tissues. The present review compares the production and functions of SHBG in different species and its diverse effects on reproduction.
Understanding gene expression patterns in response to altered environmental conditions at different time points of the preimplantation period would improve our knowledge on regulation of embryonic development. Here we aimed to examine the effect of alternative in vivo and in vitro culture conditions at the time of major embryonic genome activation (EGA) on the development and transcriptome profile of bovine blastocysts. Four different blastocyst groups were produced under alternative in vivo and in vitro culture conditions before or after major EGA. Completely in vitro-and in vivo-produced blastocysts were used as controls. We compared gene expression patterns between each blastocyst group and in vivo blastocyst control group using EmbryoGENE's bovine microarray. The data showed that changing culture conditions from in vivo to in vitro or vice versa, either before or after the time of major EGA, had no effect on the developmental rates; however, in vitro conditions during that time critically influenced the transcriptome of the blastocysts produced. The source of oocyte had a critical effect on developmental rates and the ability of the embryo to react to changing culture conditions. Ontological classification highlighted a marked contrast in expression patterns for lipid metabolism and oxidative stress response between blastocysts generated in vivo versus in vitro, with opposite trends. Molecular mechanisms and pathways that are influenced by altered culture conditions during EGA were defined. These results will help in the development of new strategies to modify culture conditions at this critical stage to enhance the development of competent blastocysts.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in many developmental processes, including cell differentiation and apoptosis. Transition of proliferative ovarian granulosa cells to terminally differentiated luteal cells in response to the ovulatory surge of luteinizing hormone (LH) involves rapid and pronounced changes in cellular morphology and function. MicroRNA 21 (miR-21, official symbol Mir21) is one of three highly LH-induced miRNAs in murine granulosa cells, and here we examine the function and temporal expression of Mir21 within granulosa cells as they transition to luteal cells. Granulosa cells were transfected with blocking (2'-O-methyl) and locked nucleic acid (LNA-21) oligonucleotides, and mature Mir21 expression decreased to one ninth and one twenty-seventh of its basal expression, respectively. LNA-21 depletion of Mir21 activity in cultured granulosa cells induced apoptosis. In vivo, follicular granulosa cells exhibit a decrease in cleaved caspase 3, a hallmark of apoptosis, 6 h after the LH/human chorionic gonadotropin surge, coincident with the highest expression of mature Mir21. To examine whether Mir21 is involved in regulation of apoptosis in vivo, mice were treated with a phospho thioate-modified LNA-21 oligonucleotide, and granulosa cell apoptosis was examined. Apoptosis increased in LNA-21-treated ovaries, and ovulation rate decreased in LNA-21-treated ovaries, compared with their contralateral controls. We have examined a number of Mir21 apoptotic target transcripts identified in other systems; currently, none of these appear to play a role in the induction of ovarian granulosa cell apoptosis. This study is the first to implicate the antiapoptotic Mir21 (an oncogenic miRNA) as playing a clear physiologic role in normal tissue function.
The requirement for vitamin A in reproduction and development was first determined from studies of nutritional deficiencies. Subsequent research has shown that embryonic development and both male and female reproduction are modulated by retinoic acid (RA), the active form of vitamin A. Because RA is active in multiple developmental systems, its synthesis, transport, and degradation are tightly regulated in different tissues. A growing body of evidence implicates RA as a requirement for the initiation of meiosis in both male and female mammals, resulting in a mechanistic model involving the interplay of RA, RA synthesis enzymes, RA receptors, and degradative cytochrome P450 enzymes in this system. Recently, that model has been challenged, prompting a review of the established paradigm. While it remains possible that additional molecules may be involved in regulating entry into meiosis, the weight of evidence supporting a key role for RA is incontrovertible.
Human endometrium regenerates on a cyclic basis from candidate stem/progenitors whose genetic programs are yet to be determined. A subpopulation of endometrial stromal cells, displaying key properties of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), has been characterized. The endometrial MSC (eMSC) is likely the precursor of the endometrial stromal fibroblast. The goal of this study was to determine the transcriptome and signaling pathways in the eMSC to understand its functional phenotype. Endometrial stromal cells from oocyte donors (n = 20) and patients undergoing benign gynecologic surgery (n = 7) were fluorescence-activated cell sorted into MCAM (CD146)(+)/PDGFRB(+) (eMSC), MCAM (CD146)(-)/PDGFRB(+) (fibroblast), and MCAM (CD146)(+)/PDGFRB(-) (endothelial) populations. The eMSC population contained clonogenic cells with a mesenchymal phenotype differentiating into adipocytes when cultured in adipogenic medium. Gene expression profiling using Affymetrix Human Gene 1.0 ST arrays revealed 762 and 1518 significantly differentially expressed genes in eMSCs vs. stromal fibroblasts and eMSCs vs. endothelial cells, respectively. By principal component and hierarchical clustering analyses, eMSCs clustered with fibroblasts and distinctly from endothelial cells. Endometrial MSCs expressed pericyte markers and were localized by immunofluorescence to the perivascular space of endometrial small vessels. Endometrial MSCs also expressed genes involved in angiogenesis/vasculogenesis, steroid hormone/hypoxia responses, inflammation, immunomodulation, cell communication, and proteolysis/inhibition, and exhibited increased Notch, TGFB, IGF, Hedgehog, and G-protein-coupled receptor signaling pathways, characteristic of adult tissue MSC self-renewal and multipotency. Overall, the data support the eMSC as a clonogenic, multipotent pericyte that displays pathways of self-renewal and lineage specification, the potential to respond to conditions during endometrial desquamation and regeneration, and a genetic program predictive of its differentiated lineage, the stromal fibroblast.
Humans are exposed daily to di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), a plasticizer found in many consumer, medical, and building products containing polyvinyl chloride. Large doses of DEHP disrupt normal ovarian function; however, the effects of DEHP at environmentally relevant levels, the effects of DEHP on folliculogenesis, and the mechanisms by which DEHP disrupts ovarian function are unclear. The present study tested the hypothesis that relatively low levels of DEHP disrupt estrous cyclicity as well as accelerate primordial follicle recruitment by dysregulating phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling. Adult CD-1 mice were orally dosed with DEHP (20 lg/kg/day-750 mg/kg/day) daily for 10 and 30 days. Following dosing, the effects on estrous cyclicity were examined, and follicle numbers were histologically quantified. Further, the ovarian mRNA and protein levels of PI3K signaling factors that are associated with early folliculogenesis were quantified. The data indicate that 10- and 30-day exposure to DEHP prolonged the duration of estrus and accelerated primordial follicle recruitment. Specifically, DEHP exposure decreased the percentage of primordial follicles and increased the percentage of primary follicles counted following 10-day exposure and increased the percentage of primary follicles counted following 30-day exposure. DEHP exposure, at doses that accelerate folliculogenesis, increased the levels of 3-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase-1, mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1, and protein kinase B and decreased the levels of phosphatase and tensin homolog, potentially driving PI3K signaling. Collectively, relatively low levels of DEHP disrupt estrous cyclicity and accelerate primordial follicle recruitment potentially via a mechanism involving dysregulation of PI3K signaling.
Spermatogenesis is a temperature-dependent process, and increases in scrotal temperature can disrupt its progression. We previously showed that heat stress causes DNA damage in germ cells, an increase in germ cell death (as seen on TUNEL staining), and subfertility. The present study evaluated the stress response in mouse testes following a single mild transient scrotal heat exposure (40Â°C or 42Â°C for 30 min). We investigated markers of three types of stress response, namely, hypoxia, oxidative stress, and apoptosis. Heat stress caused an increase in expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha ( Hif1a ) mRNA expression and translocation of HIF1A protein to the germ cell nucleus, consistent with hypoxic stress. Increased expression of heme oxygenase 1 ( Hmox1 ) and the antioxidant enzymes glutathione peroxidase 1 (GPX1) and glutathione S-transferase alpha (GSTA) was consistent with a robust oxidative stress response. Germ cell death was associated with an increase in expression of the effector caspase cleaved caspase 3 and a decrease in expression of the protein inhibitor of caspase-activated DNase (ICAD). Reduced expression of ICAD contributes to increased activity of caspase-activated DNase and is consistent with the increased rates of DNA fragmentation that have been detected previously using TUNEL staining. These studies confirmed that transient mild testicular hyperthermia results in temperature-dependent germ cell death and demonstrated that elevated temperature results in a complex stress response, including induction of genes associated with oxidative stress and hypoxia.
Abstract The G protein-coupled receptor Gpr30 (Gper) was recently claimed to bind to estradiol and to activate cytoplasmic signal transduction pathways in response to estradiol. However, there are conflicting data regarding the role of Gpr30 as an estrogen receptor (ER): several laboratories were unable to demonstrate estradiol binding to GPR30 or estradiol-activated signal transduction in Gpr30-expressing cells. To clarify the potential role of Gpr30 as an ER, we generated Gpr30-deficient mice. Although Gpr30 was expressed in all reproductive organs, histopathological analysis did not reveal any abnormalities in these organs in Gpr30-deficient mice. Mutant male and female mice were as fertile as their wild-type littermates, indicating normal function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis. Moreover, we analyzed estrogenic responses in two major estradiol target organs, the uterus and the mammary gland. For that purpose, we examined different readout paradigms such as morphological measures, cellular ...
The Nile tilapia, a gonochoristic teleost fish with an XX/XY sex-determining system, provides an excellent model for studying gonadal sex differentiation because genetic all-females and all-males are available. In this study, we used quantitative real-time RT-PCR to determine the precise timing of the gonadal expression of 17 genes thought to be associated with gonadal sex differentiation in vertebrates. Gonads were isolated from all-female and all-male tilapia before (5â15 days after hatching [dah]) and after (25â70 dah) morphological sex differentiation. The transcript of aromatase ( cyp19a1a ), an enzyme responsible for producing estradiol-17beta, was expressed only in XX gonads at 5 dah, with a marked elevation in expression thereafter. In contrast, mRNA expression of steroid 11beta-hydroxylase ( cyp11b2 ), an enzyme responsible for the synthesis of 11-ketotestosterone (11-KT, a potent androgen in fish), was found in XY gonads from 35 dah only. These results, combined with the presence of transcripts for other steroidogenic enzymes and estrogen receptors in XX gonads at 5â7 dah, are consistent with our earlier suggestion that estradiol-17beta plays a critical role in ovarian differentiation in tilapia, whereas a role for 11-KT in testicular differentiation is questionable. A close relationship between the expression of foxl2 , but not nr5a1 (Ad4BP/SF-1), and that of cyp19a1a in XX gonads suggests an important role for Foxl2 in the transcriptional regulation of cyp19a1a . Dmrt1 exhibited a male-specific expression in XY gonads from 6 dah onward, suggesting an important role for Dmrt1 in testicular differentiation. Sox9 and amh (anti-Mullerian hormone) showed a testis-specific expression, being evident only in the later stages of testicular differentiation. It is concluded that the sex-specific expression of foxl2 and cyp19a1a in XX gonads and dmrt1 in XY gonads during early gonadal differentiation (5â6 dah) is critical for undifferentiated gonads to differentiate into either the ovary or testis in the Nile tilapia.
Implantation failure and inadequate placental development are important contributors to infertility, recurrent miscarriage, and other pregnancy-related problems in women. Better understanding of these processes is hampered by the difficulty in obtaining human tissue from which primary cells can be prepared and by the very limited access worldwide to human blastocysts for experimentation. Therefore, the use of appropriate cell lines, particularly for functional studies of implantation and placentation, is imperative. While a number of cell lines for both endometrium and trophoblast have been developed and are widely used, it is difficult for researchers to decide which of these are most appropriate for studies of particular functions. This brief review summarizes the known phenotypes of the most widely used cell lines and indicates which might be the most appropriate for individual studies.
Maternal nutrition during pregnancy has a pivotal role in the regulation of placental-fetal development and thereby affects the lifelong health and productivity of offspring. Suboptimal maternal nutrition yields low birth weight, with substantial effect on the short-term morbidity of the newborn. The placenta is the organ through which gases, nutrients, and wastes are exchanged between the maternal-fetal circulations. The size, morphology, and nutrient transfer capacity of the placenta determine the prenatal growth trajectory of the fetus to influence birth weight. Transplacental exchange depends on uterine, placental, and umbilical blood flow. Most important, maternal nutrition influences factors associated not only with placental homeostasis but also with optimal fetal development. This review associates fetal growth with maternal nutrition during pregnancy, placental growth and vascular development, and placental nutrient transport.