Targeted modification of the pig genome can be challenging. Recent applications of the CRISPR/Cas9 system hold promise for improving the efficacy of genome editing. When a designed CRISPR/Cas9 system targeting CD163 or CD1D was introduced into somatic cells, it was highly efficient in inducing mutations. When these mutated cells were used with somatic cell nuclear transfer, offspring with these modifications were created. When the CRISPR/Cas9 system was delivered into in vitro produced presumptive porcine zygotes, the system was effective in creating mutations in eGFP, CD163, and CD1D (100% targeting efficiency in blastocyst stage embryos); however, it also presented some embryo toxicity. We could also induce deletions in CD163 or CD1D by introducing two types of CRISPRs with Cas9. The system could also disrupt two genes, CD163 and eGFP, simultaneously when two CRISPRs targeting two genes with Cas9 were delivered into zygotes. Direct injection of CRISPR/Cas9 targeting CD163 or CD1D into zygotes resulted in piglets that have mutations on both alleles with only one CD1D pig having a mosaic genotype. We show here that the CRISPR/Cas9 system can be used by two methods. The system can be used to modify somatic cells followed by somatic cell nuclear transfer. System components can also be used in in vitro produced zygotes to generate pigs with specific genetic modifications.
Obese pregnant women have increased levels of proinflammatory cytokines in maternal circulation and placental tissues. However, the pathways contributing to placental inflammation in obesity are largely unknown. We tested the hypothesis that maternal body mass index (BMI) was associated with elevated proinflammatory cytokines in maternal and fetal circulations and increased activation of placental inflammatory pathways. A total of 60 women of varying pre-/early pregnancy BMI, undergoing delivery by Cesarean section at term, were studied. Maternal and fetal (cord) plasma were collected for analysis of insulin, leptin, IL-1beta, IL-6, IL-8, monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP) 1, and TNFalpha by multiplex ELISA. Activation of the inflammatory pathways in the placenta was investigated by measuring the phosphorylated and total protein expression of p38-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), c-Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK)-MAPK, signal transducer-activated transcription factor (STAT) 3, caspase-1, IL-1beta, IkappaB-alpha protein, and p65 DNA-binding activity. To determine the link between activated placental inflammatory pathways and elevated maternal cytokines, cultured primary human trophoblast (PHT) cells were treated with physiological concentrations of insulin, MCP-1, and TNFalpha, and inflammatory signaling analyzed by Western blot. Maternal BMI was positively correlated with maternal insulin, leptin, MCP-1, and TNFalpha, whereas only fetal leptin was increased with BMI. Placental phosphorylation of p38-MAPK and STAT3, and the expression of IL-1beta protein, were increased with maternal BMI; phosphorylation of p38-MAPK was also correlated with birth weight. In contrast, placental NFkappaB, JNK and caspase-1 signaling, and fetal cytokine levels were unaffected by maternal BMI. In PHT cells, p38-MAPK was activated by MCP-1 and TNFalpha, whereas STAT3 phosphorylation was increased following TNFalpha treatment. Maternal BMI is associated with elevated maternal cytokines and activation of placental p38-MAPK and STAT3 inflammatory pathways, without changes in fetal systemic inflammatory profile. Activation of p38-MAPK by MCP-1 and TNFalpha, and STAT3 by TNFalpha, suggests a link between elevated proinflammatory cytokines in maternal plasma and activation of placental inflammatory pathways. We suggest that inflammatory processes associated with elevated maternal BMI may influence fetal growth by altering placental function.
The relationship between stallion fertility and oxidative stress remains poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to identify criteria for thoroughbred fertility assessment by performing a logistical regression analysis using "dismount" sperm parameters as predictors and weekly per-cycle conception rate as the dependent variable. Paradoxically, positive relationships between fertility and oxidative stress were revealed, such that samples that produced pregnancies exhibited higher rates of 8-hydroxy-2 '-deoxyguanosine release (1490.2% vs. 705.5 pg/ml/24 h) and lower vitality (60.5% vs. 69.6%) and acrosome integrity (40.2% vs. 50.1%) than those that did not. We hypothesized that the most fertile spermatozoa exhibited the highest levels of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS), with oxidative stress simply being a by-product of intense mitochondrial activity. Accordingly, an experiment to investigate the relationship between oxidative stress and motility was conducted and revealed positive correlations between mitochondrial ROS and total motility (R-2 = 0.90), rapid motility (R-2 = 0.89), average path velocity (VAP; R-2 = 0.59), and curvilinear velocity (VCL; R-2 = 0.66). Similarly, lipid peroxidation was positively correlated with total motility (R-2 = 0.46), rapid motility (R-2 = 0.51), average path velocity (R-2 = 0.62), and VCL (R-2 = 0.56), supporting the aforementioned hypothesis. The relative importance of OXPHOS in supporting the motility of equine spermatozoa was contrasted with human spermatozoa, which primarily utilize glycolysis. In this study, mitochondrial inhibition significantly reduced the velocity (P < 0.01) and ATP (P < 0.05) content of equine, but not human, spermatozoa, emphasizing the former's relative dependence on OXPHOS. The equine is the first mammal in which such a positive relationship between oxidative stress and functionality has been observed, with implications for the management of stallion fertility in vitro and in vivo.
Even after several decades of quiescent storage in the ovary, the female germ cell is capable of reinitiating transcription to build the reserves that are essential to support early embryonic development. In the current model of mammalian oogenesis, there exists bilateral communication between the gamete and the surrounding cells that is limited to paracrine signaling and direct transfer of small molecules via gap junctions existing at the end of the somatic cells' projections that are in contact with the oolemma. The purpose of this work was to explore the role of cumulus cell projections as a means of conductance of large molecules, including RNA, to the mammalian oocyte. By studying nascent RNA with confocal and transmission electron microscopy in combination with transcript detection, we show that the somatic cells surrounding the fully grown bovine oocyte contribute to the maternal reserves by actively transferring large cargo, including mRNA and long noncoding RNA. This occurrence was further demonstrated by the reconstruction of cumulus-oocyte complexes with transfected cumulus cells transferring a synthetic transcript. We propose selective transfer of transcripts occurs, the delivery of which is supported by a remarkable synapselike vesicular trafficking connection between the cumulus cells and the gamete. This unexpected exogenous contribution to the maternal stores offers a new perspective on the determinants of female fertility.
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.
Expression and function of the follicle-stimulating hormone receptor (FSHR) in females were long thought to be limited to the ovary. Here, however, we identify extragonadal FSHR in both the human female reproductive tract and the placenta, and test its physiological relevance in mice. We show that in nonpregnant women FSHR is present on: endothelial cells of blood vessels in the endometrium, myometrium, and cervix; endometrial glands of the proliferative and secretory endometrium; cervical glands and the cervical stroma; and (at low levels) stromal cells and muscle fibers of the myometrium. In pregnant women, placental FSHR was detected as early as 8-10 wk of gestation and continued through term. It was expressed on: endothelial cells in fetal portions of the placenta and the umbilical cord; epithelial cells of the amnion; decidualized cells surrounding the maternal arteries in the maternal decidua; and the stromal cells and muscle fibers of the myometrium, with particularly strong expression at term. These findings suggest that FSHR expression is upregulated during decidualization and upregulated in myometrium as a function of pregnancy. The presence of FSHR in the placental vasculature suggests a role in placental angiogenesis. Analysis of genetically modified mice in which Fshr is lacking in fetal portions of the placenta revealed adverse effects on fetoplacental development. Our data further demonstrate FSHB and CGA mRNAs in placenta and uterus, consistent with potential local sources of FSH. Collectively, our data suggest heretofore unappreciated roles of extragonadal FSHR in female reproductive physiology.
Purulent disease of the uterus develops in 40% of dairy cows after parturition, when the epithelium of the endometrium is disrupted to expose the underlying stroma to bacteria. The severity of endometrial pathology is associated with isolation of Trueperella pyogenes. In the present study, T. pyogenes alone caused uterine disease when infused into the uterus of cattle where the endometrial epithelium was disrupted. The bacterium secretes a cholesterol-dependent cytolysin, pyolysin (PLO), and the plo gene was identical and the plo gene promoter was highly similar amongst 12 clinical isolates of T. pyogenes. Bacteria-free filtrates of the T. pyogenes cultures caused hemolysis and endometrial cytolysis, and PLO was the main cytolytic agent, because addition of anti-PLO antibody prevented cytolysis. Similarly, a plo-deletion T. pyogenes mutant did not cause hemolysis or endometrial cytolysis. Endometrial stromal cells were notably more sensitive to PLO-mediated cytolysis than epithelial or immune cells. Stromal cells also contained more cholesterol than epithelial cells, and reducing stromal cell cholesterol content using cyclodextrins protected against PLO. Although T. pyogenes or plo-deletion T. pyogenes stimulated accumulation of inflammatory mediators, such as IL-1beta, IL-6, and IL-8, from endometrium, PLO did not stimulate inflammatory responses by endometrial or hematopoietic cells, or in vitro organ cultures of endometrium. The marked sensitivity of stromal cells to PLO-mediated cytolysis provides an explanation for how T. pyogenes acts as an opportunistic pathogen to cause pathology of the endometrium once the protective epithelium is lost after parturition.
Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have enabled millions of couples with compromised fertility to conceive children. Nevertheless, there is a growing concern regarding the safety of these procedures due to an increased incidence of imprinting disorders, premature birth, and low birth weight in ART-conceived offspring. An integral aspect of ART is the oxygen concentration used during in vitro development of mammalian embryos, which is typically either atmospheric (similar to 20%) or reduced (5%). Both oxygen tension levels have been widely used, but 5% oxygen improves preimplantation development in several mammalian species, including that of humans. To determine whether a high oxygen tension increases the frequency of epigenetic abnormalities in mouse embryos subjected to ART, we measured DNA methylation and expression of several imprinted genes in both embryonic and placental tissues from concepti generated by in vitro fertilization (IVF) and exposed to 5% or 20% oxygen during culture. We found that placentae from IVF embryos exhibit an increased frequency of abnormal methylation and expression profiles of several imprinted genes, compared to embryonic tissues. Moreover, IVF-derived placentae exhibit a variety of epigenetic profiles at the assayed imprinted genes, suggesting that these epigenetic defects arise by a stochastic process. Although culturing embryos in both of the oxygen concentrations resulted in a significant increase of epigenetic defects in placental tissues compared to naturally conceived controls, we did not detect significant differences between embryos cultured in 5% and those cultured in 20% oxygen. Thus, further optimization of ART should be considered to minimize the occurrence of epigenetic errors in the placenta.
It is well-accepted that maternal obesity affects fetal development to elevate the risk of offspring disease, but how this happens is unclear. Understanding placental alterations during gestation as a consequence of maternal obesity is critical to understanding the impact of maternal obesity on fetal programming. Here, we used histological criteria, flow cytometry, quantitative PCR, and multiplex cytokine assays to examine changes in cell proliferation and inflammation in the placenta during gestation in a mouse model of maternal high-fat diet-induced obesity. We focused on mouse mid-to late gestation (approximately human late first and third trimester) because previous literature has indicated that this is when important regulators of metabolism, including that of the brain and endocrine pancreas, are forming. These studies were undertaken in order to understand how maternal obesity changes the placenta during this period, which might suggest a causal link to later-life metabolic dysfunction. We found that labyrinth thickness and cell proliferation were decreased at both pregnancy stages in obese compared to normal weight pregnancies. Inflammation was also altered in late pregnancy with increased macrophage activation and elevated cytokine gene expression in the placenta as well as increased abundance of some cytokines in the fetal circulation in obese compared to normal weight pregnancies. These changes in macrophage activation and cytokine gene expression were of greater magnitude and significance in placentas accompanying male fetuses. These data provide insight into placental changes in obesity and identify potential links between placental inflammation and programming of offspring disease by maternal obesity.
Oocyte in vitro maturation (IVM) has become a valuable technological tool for animal breeding and cloning and the treatment of human infertility because it does not require the administration of exogenous gonadotropin to obtain fertilizable oocytes. However, embryo development after IVM is lower compared to in vivo maturation, most likely because oocytes collected for IVM are heterogeneous with respect to their developmental competencies. Attempts to improve IVM outcome have relied upon either prematuration culture (PMC) or two-step maturation strategies in the hope of normalizing variations in developmental competence. Such culture systems invoke the pharmacological arrest of meiosis, in theory providing oocytes sufficient time to complete the acquisition of developmental competence after cumulus-enclosed oocytes isolation from the follicle. The present study was designed to test the efficiency of natriuretic peptide precursor C (NPPC) as a nonpharmacologic meiosis-arresting agent during IVM in a monoovulatory species. NPPC has been shown to maintain meiotic arrest in vivo and in vitro in mice and pigs; however, the use of this molecule for PMC has yet to have been explored. Toward this end, meiotic cell cycle reentry, gap-junction functionality, and chromatin configuration changes were investigated in bovine cumulus-enclosed oocytes cultured in the presence of NPPC. Moreover, oocyte developmental competence was investigated after IVM, in vitro fertilization, and embryo culture and compared to standard IVM-in vitro fertilization protocol without PMC. Our results suggest that NPPC can be used to delay meiotic resumption and increase the developmental competence of bovine oocytes when used in PMC protocols.
The preimplantation period is a time of reprogramming that may be vulnerable to disruption. This question has wide clinical relevance since the number of children conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF) is rising. To examine this question, outbred mice (CF1 Chi B6D2F1) conceived by IVF and cultured using Whitten medium and 20% O-2 (IVFWM group, less optimal) or K simplex optimized medium with amino acids and 5% O-2 (IVFKAA group, more optimal and similar to conditions used in human IVF) were studied postnatally. We found that flushed blastocysts transferred to recipient mice provided the best control group (FB group), as this accounted for the effects of superovulation, embryo transfer, and litter size. We observed that many physiological parameters were normal. Reassuringly, IVFKAA offspring did not differ significantly from FB offspring. However, male IVFWM mice (but not females) were larger during the first 19 wk of life and exhibited glucose intolerance. Male IVFWM mice also showed enlarged left heart despite normal blood pressure. Expression of candidate imprinted genes (H19, Igf2, and Slc38a4) in multiple adult tissues did not show differences among the groups; only Slc38a4 was down-regulated following IVF (in both culture conditions) in female adipose tissue. These studies demonstrate that adult metabolism is affected by the type of conditions encountered during the preimplantation stage. Further, the postnatal growth trajectory and glucose homeostasis following ex vivo manipulation may be sexual dimorphic. Future work on the long-term effects of IVF offspring should focus on glucose metabolism and the cardiovascular system.
Bacterial infection-associated inflammation is thought to be a major cause of preterm premature rupture of membranes. Proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin 1B (IL1B), can weaken fetal membranes (FM) by upregulating matrix metalloproteinases and inducing apoptosis. The mechanism by which infection leads to inflammation at the maternal-fetal interface and subsequent preterm birth is thought to involve innate immune pattern recognition receptors (PRR), such as the Toll-like receptors (TLR) and Nod-like receptors (NLR), which recognize pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs). The objective of this study was to determine the cytokine profile generated by FMs in response to the bacterial TLR and NLR agonists peptidoglycan (PDG; TLR2), lipopolysaccharide (LPS; TLR4), flagellin (TLR5), CpG ODN (TLR9), iE-DAP (Nod1), and MDP (Nod2). PDG, LPS, flagellin, iE-DAP, and MDP triggered FMs to generate an inflammatory response, but the cytokine profiles were distinct for each TLR and NLR agonist, and only IL1B and RANTES were commonly upregulated in response to all five PAMPs. CpG ODN, in contrast, had a mild stimulatory effect only on MCP-1 and primarily downregulated basal FM cytokine production. IL1B secretion induced by PDG, LPS, flagellin, iE-DAP, and MDP was associated with its processing. Furthermore, FM IL1B secretion in response to TLR2, TLR4, and TLR5 activation was caspase 1-dependent, whereas Nod1 and Nod2 induced IL1B secretion independent of caspase 1. These findings demonstrate that FMs respond to different bacterial TLR and NLR PAMPs by generating distinct inflammatory cytokine profiles through distinct mechanisms that are specific to the innate immune PRR activated.
Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC1) is considered the rate-controlling enzyme for the classical de novo biosynthesis of polyamines (putrescine, spermidine, and spermine) in mammals. However, metabolism of arginine to agmatine via arginine decarboxylase (ADC) and conversion of agmatine to polyamines via agmatinase (AGMAT) is an alternative pathway long recognized in lower organisms, but only recently suggested for neurons and liver cells of mammals. We now provide evidence for a functional ADC/AGMAT pathway for the synthesis of polyamines in mammalian reproductive tissue for embryonic survival and development. We first investigated cellular functions of polyamines by in vivo knockdown of translation of mRNA for ODC1 in ovine conceptus trophectoderm using morpholino antisense oligonucleotides (MAOs) and found that one-half of the conceptuses were morphologically and functionally either normal or abnormal. Furthermore, we found that increases in ADC/AGMAT mRNA levels and in the translation of AGMAT mRNA among conceptuses in MAO-ODC1 knockdown compensated for the loss of ODC1, supporting polyamine synthesis from arginine and accounting for the normal and abnormal phenotypes of conceptuses. We conclude that the majority of polyamine synthesis is by the conventional ODC1-dependent pathway (arginine-ornithine-putrescine) and that deficiencies in ODC1 result in increased activity of the rescue ADC/AGMAT-dependent pathway (arginine-agmatine-putrescine) for production of polyamines. The presence of an alternative ADC/AGMAT pathway for converting arginine into putrescine is functionally important for supporting survival and development of mammalian conceptuses.
Oocyte in vitro maturation (IVM) is an important assisted reproductive technology and research tool. The adoption of IVM into routine clinical practice has been hindered by its significantly lower success rates compared to conventional in vitro fertilization. Cyclic AMP (cAMP) modulation and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), independently, have long been known to improve IVM oocyte developmental competence. This study comprehensively examined the effects of FSH and cAMP/cGMP modulation, alone and in combination, on IVM oocyte metabolism and developmental outcomes. Mouse cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) were subjected to a 1 h prematuration phase +/- the cAMP modulator forskolin and cAMP/cGMP modulator 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine followed by IVM +/- FSH. Prematuration with these cyclic nucleotide modulators or IVM with FSH significantly improved oocyte developmental competence and reduced spindle abnormalities compared to spontaneous IVM (no treatment); however, these two treatments in combination endowed even greater developmental competence (improved subsequent blastocyst rates and quality; P < 0.05), albeit blastocyst yield and quality remained significantly lower than that of oocytes matured in vivo. A significant additive effect of combined IVM treatments was evident as increased COC lactate production and oxygen consumption and enhanced oocyte oxidative metabolism, ATP production, ATP:ADP ratio, and glutathione levels (P < 0.05). Nevertheless, IVM increased reactive oxygen species production, particularly as a consequence of FSH addition, relative to in vivo matured oocytes. In conclusion, improvements in the embryo yield following IVM is associated with increased COC oxygen consumption and oocyte oxidative metabolism, but these remain metabolically and developmentally less competent relative to in vivo derived oocytes.
Pregnancy hides an immunological riddle combining two antagonistic characteristics of immunology: the existence of a tolerance that allows the gestation of a semiallogeneic fetus and proper protection against pathogens threatening the health of the immunocompromised mother. Despite the fundamental role that B cells play in orchestrating an immune response, their behavior in the context of pregnancy has been barely investigated. Here we demonstrate that numbers of pre/pro and immature B cells were progressively diminished in the bone marrow (BM) of pregnant mice, leading to a reduced influx of B cells in blood and spleen. Correspondingly, lower levels of B cell-activating factor of the TNF family were observed in serum of pregnant mice. In contrast to immature B cells, mature B cells were accumulated in the BM during pregnancy. Accordingly, higher numbers of mature B cells were observed in the lymph nodes draining the uterus as well as in the peritoneal cavity of pregnant mice, both tissues in close contact with the fetuses. Despite an increase in spleen size, pregnant mice showed lower numbers of splenic B cells, which was mirrored by lower numbers of immature and FO B cells. However, marginal zone B cells in the spleen increased during pregnancy. Additionally, serum IgM, IgA, and IgG3 titers were elevated in pregnant mice. Collectively, our data show how the B cell compartment adapts to the presence of the semiallogeneic fetus during gravidity.
Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have been associated with several adverse perinatal outcomes involving placentation and fetal growth. It is critical to examine each intervention individually in order to assess its relationship to the described adverse perinatal outcomes. One intervention ubiquitously used in ART is superovulation with gonadotropins. Superovulation results in significant changes in the hormonal milieu, which persist during the peri-implantation and early placentation periods. Epidemiologic evidence suggests that the treatment-induced peri-implantation maternal environment plays a critical role in perinatal outcomes. In this study, using the mouse model, we have isolated the exposure to the peri-implantation period, and we examine the effect of superovulation on placentation and fetal growth. We report that the nonphysiologic peri-implantation maternal hormonal environment resulting from gonadotropin stimulation appears to have a direct effect on fetal growth, trophoblast differentiation, and gene expression. This appears to be mediated, at least in part, through trophoblast expansion and invasion. Although the specific molecular and cellular mechanism(s) leading to these observations remain to be elucidated, identifying this modifiable risk factor will not only allow us to improve perinatal outcomes with ART, but help us understand the pathophysiology contributing to these outcomes.
Environmental factors are known to influence sex determination in many nonmammalian vertebrates. In all crocodilians studied thus far, temperature is the only known determinant of sex. However, the molecular mechanisms mediating the effect of temperature on sex determination are not known. Aromatase (CYP19A1) and SOX9 play critical roles in vertebrate sex determination and gonadogenesis. Here, we used a variety of techniques to investigate the potential roles of DNA methylation patterning on CYP19A1 and SOX9 expression in the American alligator, an organism that relies on temperature-dependent sex determination. Our findings reveal that developing gonads derived from embryos incubated at a male-producing temperature (MPT) show elevated CYP19A1 promoter methylation and decreased levels of gene expression relative to incubation at a female-producing temperature (FPT). The converse was observed at the SOX9 locus, with increased promoter methylation and decreased expression occurring in embryonic gonads resulting from incubation at FPT relative to that of MPT. We also examined the gonadal expression of the three primary, catalytically active DNA methyltransferase enzymes and show that they are present during critical stages of gonadal development. Together, these data strongly suggest that DNA methylation patterning is a central component in coordinating the genetic cascade responsible for sexual differentiation. In addition, these data raise the possibility that DNA methylation could act as a key mediator integrating temperature into a molecular trigger that determines sex in the alligator.
Avian gametes present specific features related to their internal long-term mode of fertilization. Among other central actors of energetic metabolism control, it has been suspected that 5'-AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) influences sperm functions and thus plays a key role in fertilization success. In the present work, we studied AMPK localization and function in chicken sperm incubated in vitro. Effects of the pharmacological AMPK activators (AICAR, metformin) and the AMPK inhibitor compound C were assessed by evaluating AMPKalpha (Thr(172)) phosphorylation (by Western blotting), semen quality (by viability, motility, and ability to perform acrosome reaction), and energetic metabolism indicators (lactate, ATP). Localization of AMPK in subcellular sperm compartments was evaluated by immunocytochemistry. Total AMPK was found in all compartments except for the nucleus, but the phosphorylated form phospho-Thr(172) -AMPK was essentially localized in the flagellum and acrosome. AMPK activators significantly improved AMPK phosphorylation, sperm motility (increased by 40% motile, 90% progressive, and 60% rapid sperm), acrosome reaction and lactate production (increased by 40%) and viability. The AMPK inhibitor significantly reduced AMPK phosphorylation and percentages of motility (decrease by 25%), progressive energy (decrease by 35%), and rapid sperm (decreased by 30%), acrosome reaction, lactate production, and ATP release. The two activators differed in their effect on ATP concentration: AICAR stimulated ATP formation, whereas metformin did not. Our results indicate that AMPK plays a key role in the regulation of chicken sperm functions and metabolism. This action differs from that suggested in mammals, mainly by its crucial involvement in the acrosome reaction process.
Insufficient placental growth is a major factor contributing to intrauterine growth retardation in mammals. There is growing evidence that putrescine produced from arginine (Arg) and proline via ornithine decarboxylase is a key regulator of angiogenesis, embryogenesis, as well as placental and fetal growth. However, the underlying mechanisms are largely unknown. The present study tested the hypothesis that putrescine stimulates protein synthesis by activating the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway in porcine trophectoderm cell line 2 cells. The cells were cultured for 2 to 4 days in customized Arg-free Dulbecco modified Eagle Ham medium containing 0, 10, 25, or 50 mu M putrescine or 100 mu M Arg. Cell proliferation, protein synthesis, and degradation, as well as the abundance of total and phosphorylated mTOR, ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1, and eukaryotic initiation factor 4E-binding protein-1 (4EBP1), were determined. Our results indicate that putrescine promotes cell proliferation and protein synthesis in a dose-and time-dependent manner, which was inhibited by difluoro-methylornithine (an inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase). Moreover, supplementation of culture medium with putrescine increased the abundance of phosphorylated mTOR and its downstream targets, 4EBP1 and p70 S6K1 proteins. Collectively, these findings reveal a novel and important role for putrescine in regulating the mTOR signaling pathway in porcine placental cells. We suggest that dietary supplementation with or intravenous administration of putrescine may provide a new and effective strategy to improve survival and growth of embryos/fetuses in mammals.
Sma- and Mad-related protein 4 (SMAD4) is the central mediator of the transforming growth factor beta signaling pathway and is closely related to mammalian reproductive ability and the development of ovarian follicles. However, little is currently known about the role of SMAD4 in mammalian follicular granulosa cell (GC) apoptosis or its regulation by miRNAs. Here, we found that the porcine SMAD4 protein was expressed at high levels in GCs and oocytes from primary, preantral, and antral follicles, and only slightly expressed in theca cells; its expression level was down-regulated in apoptotic ovarian GCs, suggesting that SMAD4 may be involved in ovary development and selection. Overexpression and knockdown of SMAD4 increased the proliferation and apoptosis of cultured porcine GCs, respectively. In addition, the use of miRNA mimics and luciferase reporter assays revealed that miRNA-26b (miR-26b) functions as a proapoptotic factor in porcine follicular GCs by targeting the 3'-untranslated region of the SMAD4 gene. Overexpression of miR-26b in follicular GCs suppressed SMAD4 mRNA and protein levels, resulting in down-regulation of the antiapoptotic BCL-2 gene and the promotion of GC apoptosis. Furthermore, transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-beta1) down-regulates miR-26b expression in porcine GCs. Taken together, these data suggest that SMAD4 plays a critical role in porcine follicular GC apoptosis and follicular atresia and that miR-26b may have a proapoptotic role in GCs by regulating the expression of SMAD4 in the transforming growth factor beta signaling pathway.