MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small endogenous molecules that are involved in a diverse of cellular process. However, little is known about their abundance in bovine oocytes and their surrounding cumulus cells during oocyte development. To elucidate this situation, we investigated the relative expression pattern of sets of miRNAs between bovine oocyte and the surrounding cumulus cells during in vitro maturation using miRNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) array. Results revealed that a total of 47 and 51 miRNAs were highly abundant in immature and matured oocytes, respectively, compared with their surrounding cumulus cells. Furthermore, expression analysis of six miRNAs enriched in oocyte miR-205, miR-150, miR-122, miR-96, miR-146a and miR-146b-5p at different maturation times showed a dramatic decrease in abundance from 0 h to 22 h of maturation. The expression of the same miRNAs in preimplantation stage embryos was found to be highly abundant in early stages of embryo development and decreased after the 8-cell stage to the blastocyst stage following a typical maternal transcript profile. Similar results were obtained by localization of miR-205 in preimplantation stage embryos, in which signals were higher up to the 4-cell stage and reduced thereafter. miR-205 and miR-210 were localized in situ in ovarian follicles and revealed a spatio-temporal expression during follicular development. Interestingly, the presence or absence of oocytes or cumulus cells during maturation was found to affect the expression of miRNAs in each of the two cell types. Hence, our results showed the presence of distinct sets of miRNAs in oocytes or cumulus cells and the presence of their dynamic degradation during bovine oocyte maturation.
Heat shock may disrupt oocyte function by increasing the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). We evaluated the capacity of the antioxidant melatonin to protect oocytes using two models of oxidative stress - heat shock and the pro-oxidant menadione. Bovine cumulus-oocyte complexes (COC) were exposed in the presence or absence of 1 mu M melatonin to the following treatments during maturation: 38.5 degrees C, 41 degrees C and 38.5 degrees C+5 mu M menadione. In the first experiment, COC were matured for 3 h with 5 mu M CellROX (R) and analyzed by epifluorescence microscopy to quantify production of ROS. The intensity of ROS was greater for oocytes exposed to heat shock and menadione than for control oocytes. Melatonin reduced ROS intensity for heat-shocked oocytes and oocytes exposed to menadione, but not for control oocytes. In the second experiment, COC were matured for 22 h. After maturation, oocytes were fertilized and the embryos cultured for 7.5 days. The proportion of oocytes that cleaved after fertilization was lower for oocytes exposed to heat shock and menadione than for control oocytes. Melatonin increased cleavage for heat-shocked oocytes and oocytes exposed to menadione, but not for control oocytes. Melatonin tended to increase the developmental competence of embryos from heat-shocked oocytes but not for embryos from oocytes exposed to menadione or from control oocytes. In conclusion, melatonin reduced production of ROS of maturing oocytes and protected oocytes from deleterious effects of both stresses on competence of the oocyte to cleave after coincubation with sperm. These results suggest that excessive production of ROS compromises oocyte function.
SummaryThe present study investigated if the presence of encircling granulosa cells protected against di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP)-induced oxidative stress in rat oocytes cultured in vitro. Denuded oocytes and cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) were treated with or without various doses of DEHP (0.0, 25.0, 50.0, 100, 200, 400 and 800 μM) in vitro. Morphological apoptotic changes, levels of oxidative stress and reactive oxygen species (ROS), mitochondrial membrane potential, and expression levels of apoptotic markers (Bcl2, Bax, cytochrome c) were analyzed. Our results showed that DEHP induced morphological apoptotic changes in a dose-dependent manner in denuded oocytes cultured in vitro. The effective dose of DEHP (400 µg) significantly (P>0.05) increased oxidative stress by elevating ROS levels and the mitochondrial membrane potential with higher mRNA expression and protein levels of apoptotic markers (Bax, cytochrome c). Encircling granulosa cells protected oocytes from DEHP-induced morphological changes, increased oxidative stress and ROS levels, as well as increased expression of apoptotic markers. Taken together our data suggested that encircling granulosa cells protected oocytes against DEHP-induced apoptosis and that the presence of granulosa cells could act positively towards the survival of oocytes under in vitro culture conditions and may be helpful during assisted reproductive technique programmes.
SummaryWe isolated and characterized Xenopus tropicalis hb4 flanking DNA and showed that the -3076/+29 sequence was able to drive stage-specific transcription in the developmental process. Transgenic reporter analysis indicated that green fluorescent protein was expressed in the ovaries of female frogs at 3 months of age and in both the ovaries and testis of frogs at 6 months of age. A series of experiments with deletion of the flanking sequence and a subsequent luciferase reporter assay revealed that there were two positive regulatory regions and that the most proximal sequence of the promoter region had a certain level of transcriptional activity in oocytes. Subsequently, we showed that a conserved sequence containing Nobox-binding element (NBE) was essential for transcriptional activation and that Nobox expressed in the ovary had a crucial role in hb4 transcription through the NBE sequence.
In assisted reproductive technology (ART) programmes, approximately 10% of infertile patients have at least two or three repeated implantation failures (RIFs) after an in vitro fertilization (IVF) protocol. Successful implantation mainly depends on local immune tolerance mechanisms involving a spectrum of cytokines, interleukins and growth factors. The latter have played pivotal roles in the recruitment of immune cells (and notably T-lymphocyte cells). In total, 250 couples participating in frozen-thawed embryo transfer programme were incorporated in a randomized clinical trial (peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) subgroup: n=122; control subgroup: n=128). In the PBMC group, a blood sample was collected 5 days before the scheduled frozen-thawed embryo transfer; PBMCs were isolated using Ficoll separation and then cultured for 72 h. Two days prior to embryo transfer, 0.4 ml of cultured PBMCs were transferred into the patient's uterus. Although the clinical pregnancy rate was higher in the PBMC group (34.4%) than in the control group (23.4%), this difference was not statistically significant (P=0.05 in a chi-squared test). Nevertheless, when we limited the analysis to patients with ≥3 RIFs (n=138), there was a significant difference in the clinical pregnancy rate between the PBMC group (38.6%) and the control group (19.7%; P=0.01). Our results imply that PBMC transfer can be part of effective fertility treatment for patients with RIF.
This study aimed to optimize the derivation of trophectoderm from in vitro-produced camel embryos under feeder-free culture conditions using the basement membrane matrix Matrigel. Trophoblastic vesicles were obtained through mechanical microdissection of in vitro-produced camel (Camelus dromedarius) embryos. Supplementing the culture medium with 10 ng/ml of epidermal growth factor and 10 ng/ml fibroblast growth factor improved the attachment and subsequent outgrowths of cultured trophoblastic vesicles when compared with the control group and the groups supplemented individually with each growth factor. The expression levels of pluripotency genes octamer-binding transcription factor 4 (Oct4), sex determining region Y-box 2 (Sox2), myelocytomatosis proto-oncogene (c-Myc) and anti-apoptotic gene B-cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl2) were increased in trophoblastic vesicles supplemented with both growth factors when compared with the control group. Conversely, both growth factors decreased the expression of apoptotic genes tumour protein p53 (p53) and Bcl-2-associated X protein (Bax). To the best of our knowledge, this may be the first report describing the derivation of trophoblast stem cells from in vitro-produced camel embryos.
SummaryMale gamete chemotaxis towards the female gamete is a general strategy to facilitate the sexual reproduction in many marine eukaryotes. Biochemical studies of chemoattractants for male gametes of brown algae have advanced in the 1970s and 1980s, but the molecular mechanism of male gamete responses to the attractants remains elusive. In sea urchin, a K+ channel called the tetraKCNG channel plays a fundamental role in sperm chemotaxis and inhibition of K+ efflux through this channel by high K+ seawater blocks almost all cell responses to the chemoattractant. This signalling mechanism could be conserved in marine invertebrates as tetraKCNG channels are conserved in the marine invertebrates that exhibit sperm chemotaxis. We confirmed that high K+ seawater also inhibited sperm chemotaxis in ascidian, Ciona intestinalis (robusta), in this study. Conversely, the male gamete chemotaxis towards the female gamete of a brown alga, Mutimo cylindricus, was preserved even in high K+ seawater. This result indicates that none of the K+ channels is essential for male gamete chemotaxis in the brown alga, suggesting that the signalling mechanism for chemotaxis in this brown alga is quite different from that of marine invertebrates. Correlated to this result, we revealed that the channels previously proposed as homologues of tetraKCNG in brown algae have a distinct domain composition from that of the tetraKCNG. Namely, one of them possesses two repeats of the six transmembrane segments (diKCNG) instead of four. The structural analysis suggests that diKCNG is a cyclic nucleotide-modulated and/or voltage-gated K+ channel.
SummaryThis is a retrospective study over a 5-year period. In total, 3139 embryos were individually cryopreserved (Cryotop®) and warmed using the Kitazato vitrification/warming kit. They were classified into three categories based on their expansion degree. Transfer, implantation and pregnancy rates were assessed for each embryo category and compared using SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) software. In total, 1139 couples enrolled in infertility treatment programme benefitted from embryo vitrification at day 5. After warming, embryos belonging to the three categories showed similar success rates. Although there was a trend towards better outcomes when grade 3 embryos were transferred, the differences did not reach statistical significance: implantation rates (n fetal sac/n embryo transferred) grade 1: 21.9%, grade 2: 22.7% and grade 3: 30.3% (=0.19). Pregnancy rate (n clinical pregnancy/n transfer) (21.9%, 22.7%, 30.3%, respectively; P=0.11). Miscarriage rate was not statistically different in the three categories (14.5%, 20.4%, 20%, respectively, P=0.51). Our overall results show that it is worth vitrifying slow kinetics embryos as they provide a non-negligible chance to give rise to a pregnancy.
The aim of this study was to describe the morphology of gametes, post-fertilization events and subsequent temperature effects on the early developmental stages of the neotropical species Astyanax altiparanae. The sperm of this species presents a typical morphology of teleost sperm with a spherical head (diameter = 1.88 mu m), midpiece (diameter = 0.75 mu m) and a single flagellum (length = 18.67 mu m). The extrusion of the second polar body and fusion of male and female pronucleus were reported for the first time in this species. Additionally, we observed the formation of the fertilization cone, which prevents polyspermic fertilization. Developmental stages at 22 degrees C, 26 degrees C and 30 degrees C gave rise to fertilization rates at 91.12, 91.42 and 93.04% respectively. Hatching occurred at 25 hpf at 22 degrees C, 16 hpf at 26 degrees C and 11 hpf at 30 degrees C and the hatching rates were 61.78%, 62.90% and 59.45%, respectively. At 22 degrees C, the second polar body was extruded at approximate to 6 mpf and the male and female pronucleus fused at approximate to 10 mpf. This fundamental information is important for the field and opens up new possibilities in fish biotechnology, including micromanipulation and chromosome-set manipulation.
The decision by germ cells to differentiate and undergo either oogenesis or spermatogenesis takes place during embryonic development and Nanos plays an important role in this process. The present study was designed to investigate the expression patterns in rat of Nanos2-homologue protein in primordial germ cells (PGCs) over different embryonic developmental days as well as in spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs). Embryos from three different embryonic days (E8.5, E10.5, E11.5) and SSCs were isolated and used to detect Nanos2-homologue protein using immunocytochemistry, western blotting, reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and flow cytometry. Interestingly, Nanos2 expression was detected in PGCs at day E11.5 onwards and up to colonization of PGCs in the genital ridge of fetal gonads. No Nanos2 expression was found in PGCs during early embryonic days (E8.5 and 10.5). Furthermore, immunohistochemical and immunofluorescence data revealed that Nanos2 expression was restricted within a subpopulation of undifferentiated spermatogonia (As, single type A SSCs and Apr, paired type A SSCs). The same results were confirmed by our western blot and RT-PCR data, as Nanos2 protein and transcripts were detected only in PGCs from day E11.5 and in undifferentiated spermatogonia (As and Apr). Furthermore, Nanos2-positive cells were also immunodetected and sorted using flow cytometry from the THY1-positive SSCs population, and this strengthened the idea that these cells are stem cells. Our findings suggested that stage-specific expression of Nanos2 occurred on different embryonic developmental days, while during the postnatal period Nanos2 expression is restricted to As and Apr SSCs.
Recovery from decreased cell volume is accomplished by a regulated increase of intracellular osmolarity. The acute response is activation of inorganic ion transport into the cell, the main effector of which is the Na+/H+ exchanger NHE1. NHE1 is rapidly activated by a cell volume decrease in early embryos, but how this occurs is incompletely understood. Elucidating cell volume-regulatory mechanisms in early embryos is important, as it has been shown that their dysregulation results in preimplantation developmental arrest. The kinase JAK2 has a role in volume-mediated NHE1 activation in at least some cells, including 2-cell stage mouse embryos. However, while 2-cell embryos show partial inhibition of NHE1 when JAK2 activity is blocked, NHE1 activation in 1-cell embryos is JAK2-independent, implying a requirement for additional signalling mechanisms. As focal adhesion kinase (FAK aka PTK2) becomes phosphorylated and activated in some cell types in response to decreased cell volume, we sought to determine whether it was involved in NHE1 activation in the early mouse embryo. FAK activity requires initial autophosphorylation of a tyrosine residue, Y397. However, FAK Y397 phosphorylation levels were not increased in either 1- or 2-cell embryos after cell volume was decreased. Furthermore, the selective FAK inhibitor PF-562271 did not affect NHE1 activation at concentrations that essentially eliminated Y397 phosphorylation. Thus, autophosphorylation of FAK Y397 does not appear to be required for NHE1 activation induced by a decrease in cell volume in early mouse embryos.
We report here the existence of bands of higher molecular weight after western blot analysis in three proteins - Skp1, p27 and I kappa B alpha in bovine preimplantation embryos. This finding is specific to preimplantation embryos (from the 2-cell stage to the blastocyst stage) and not differentiated fibroblast cells in which these bands were of expected molecular weight. We suggest that these bands of higher molecular weight represent a complex of proteins that are characteristic of preimplantation embryos.
Prolyl endopeptidase (PREP) is a post-proline cleaving enzyme. It is involved in the regulation of multiple inositol polyphosphate phosphatase activity implicated in the pathway of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate, resulting in the modulation of cytosolic Ca2+ levels. Besides its peptidase activity, PREP was identified as a binding partner of tubulin, suggesting that it may participate in microtubule-associate processes. In this paper, we evaluated the expression of PREP mRNA and protein by polymerase chain reaction and western blot analyses and its co-localization with tubulin by immunofluorescence in adult mouse seminal vesicles. We showed that both proteins are cytoplasmic: tubulin is localized at the apical half part of the cell, while PREP has a more diffuse localization, showing a prominent distribution at the apical cytoplasm. These findings support our hypothesis of a specific role for PREP in cytoskeletal rearrangement that occurs during the exocytosis of secretory vesicles, and in particular its association with tubulin filaments. Moreover, it may regulate Ca2+ levels, and promote the final step of vesicular exocytosis, namely the fusion of the vesicles with the plasma membrane. These results strongly suggest that there is a pivotal role for PREP in vesicle exocytosis, as well as in the physiology of mouse seminal vesicles.
Our objective was to assess the effect of benchtop incubators with low oxygen concentrations on the clinical and embryological parameters of our patients. We conducted a prospective, randomized, opened controlled trial on infertile patients in stimulated cycles. In total, 738 infertile patients were assessed for eligibility and, after final exclusions, 230 patients were allocated either to a 5% O-2 group (benchtop incubator) or a 20% O-2 group (classic incubator). Finally, 198 patients in the 5% O-2 group and 195 in the 20% O-2 group were analysed. The outcomes measured were fertilization rate, clinical pregnancy rate, and live birth rate. The primary outcome - live birth rate per all transfers - did not show any improvement in the 5% oxygen group over the 20% oxygen group (25.3% versus 22.6%, P=0.531), but the number of day 5 blastocysts was significantly higher (P=0.009). Fertilization rate did not show any beneficial effect of reduced oxygen (5%) (73.4%+/- 22.4% versus 74.6%+/- 24.0%, P=0.606) per all transfers but there was statistically significant difference in the day 5 SET subgroup (85.3 +/- 15.1 versus 75.1 +/- 17.5; P=0.004). Clinical pregnancy rate showed results in favour of the 5% oxygen group for all subgroups (day 3: 23.7% versus 21.1%, P=0.701; day 5 SET: 35.0% versus 30.6%. P=0.569) but showed statistical significance only in the day 5 SET subgroup (51.1% versus 29.8%; P=0.038). Culturing of embryos in benchtop incubators under low oxygen produced more blastocysts and therefore was a better alternative for embryo selection, which resulted in higher pregnancy rates. To achieve higher live birth rates, embryo quality is not the only factor.
Melatonin plays a critical role in several types of cells as an antioxidant to protect intracellular molecules from oxidative stress. The anti-oxidation effect of melatonin in yak embryos is largely unknown. We report that melatonin can protect the development of yak preimplantation embryos against oxidative stress induced by hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Therefore, the quality of blastocysts developed from zygotes exposed to H2O2 was promoted. In addition, we observed that melatonin reduced H2O2-induced intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and prevented mitochondrial dysfunction in zygotes. These phenomena revealed the effective antioxidant activity of melatonin to prevent oxidative stress in yak embryos. To determine the underlying mechanism, we further demonstrated that melatonin protected preimplantation embryos from oxidative damage by preserving antioxidative enzymes. Collectively, these results confirmed the anti-oxidation effect of melatonin in yak embryos that significantly improved the quantity and quality of blastocysts in the in vitro production of embryos in yaks.
Rabbits play an important role in people's lives due to their high nutritional value and high-quality hair that can be used as raw material for textiles. Furthermore, rabbits are an important animal model for human disease, as genome-edited animals are particularly valuable for studying gene functions and pathogenesis. Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is an important technique for producing genome-edited animals and it has great value in saving endangered species and in clone stem cell therapy. However, the low efficiency of SCNT limits its application, with the selection of suitable rabbit oocytes being crucial to its success. In the present study, we collected oocytes from ovarian follicles and stained them with 26 mu M brilliant cresyl blue (BCB). We then matured the oocytes in vitro and used them for SCNT. Comparison of the BCB-positive oocytes with BCB-negative oocytes and the control group showed that the BCB-positive group had a significantly higher maturation rate (81.4% vs. 48.9% and 65.3% for the negative and control groups, respectively), cleavage rate (86.6% vs. 67.9% and 77.9%), blastocyst rate (30.5% vs. 12.8% and 19.6%), total number of blastocysts (90 +/- 7.5 vs. 65.3 +/- 6.3 and 67.5 +/- 5.7), and inner cell mass (ICM)/ trophectoderm (TE) index (42.3 +/- 4.2 vs. 30.2 +/- 2.1 and 33.9 +/- 5.1) (P<0.05). The BCB-positive group had a significantly lower apoptosis index (2.1 +/- 0.6 vs. 8.2 +/- 0.9 and 6.7 +/- 1.1 for the negative and control groups, respectively) (P<0.05). These findings demonstrate that BCB-positive oocytes have a higher maturation ability and developmental competence in vitro, indicating that BCB staining is a reliable method for selecting oocytes to enhance the efficiency of SCNT.
Much effort has been devoted to improving the efficiency of animal cloning. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of BRG1 contained in Xenopus egg extracts on the development of cloned mouse embryos. The results showed that mouse NIH/3T3 cells were able to express pluripotent genes after treatment with egg extracts, indicating that the egg extracts contained reprogramming factors. After co-injection of Xenopus egg extracts and single mouse cumulus cells into enucleated mouse oocytes, statistically higher pronucleus formation and development rates were observed in the egg Extract- co-injected group compared with those in the no egg extract-injected (NT) group (38-66% vs 18-34%, P<0.001). Removal of BRG1 protein from Xenopus egg extracts was conducted, and the BRG1-depleted extracts were co-injected with single donor cells into recipient oocytes. The results showed that the percentages of pronucleus formation were significantly higher in both BRG1-depleted and BRG1-intact groups than that in the nuclear transfer (NT) group (94, 64% vs 50%, P<0.05). Furthermore, percentages in the BRG1-depleted group were even higher than in the BRG1-intact group (94% vs 64%). More confined expression of Oct4 in the inner cell mass (ICM) was observed in the blastocyst derived from the egg extract-injected groups. However, Nanog expression was more contracted in the ICM of cloned blastocysts in the BRG1-depleted group than in the BGR1-intact group. Based on the present study, BRG1 might not play an essential role in reprogramming, but the factors enhancing pronucleus formation and development of cloned mouse embryos are contained in Xenopus egg extracts.