Publications by authors named "Fuliang Du"

31 Publications

Efficient mutagenesis targeting the gene in mice using a combination of Cas9 protein and dual gRNAs.

Am J Transl Res 2021 15;13(10):12094-12106. Epub 2021 Oct 15.

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University Nanjing 210046, Jiangsu, China.

We injected mouse zygotes with combinations of Cas9 protein, mRNA, and two gRNAs targeting a single exon of type I interferon receptor () to determine the gene targeting efficiencies. Cas9 protein produced on-target mutations more efficiently than mRNA when each was used with a single gRNA, regardless of which gRNA was used. When mRNA and Cas9 protein were co-injected, the on-target efficiency could reach 97.0% when both gRNAs were used, which was higher than when either gRNA was used alone (61.3% and 75.5%, respectively; P<0.05). Co-injection of Cas9 protein with both gRNAs produced the highest on-target mutation rate of any combination (100.0%). Most on-target mutations were deletions of 2 to 113 nucleotides, and there were few off-target mutations in mutant animals. The expression intensity of IFNAR1 was reduced in heterozygous mice (IF) and almost or completely absent in homozygous null mice compared with that in wild-type mice (IF and Western blot). When both gRNAs targeting were used simultaneously with two gRNAs targeting , the on-target editing efficiency on each gene was 96.8% and 85.5%, respectively. Co-injection of dual gRNAs and Cas9 protein is an efficient approach for knockout and multi-gene editing in mice and may be applied in other animal models and breeding livestock.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8581890PMC
October 2021

Site specificity of blastocyst hatching significantly influences pregnancy outcomes in mice.

FASEB J 2021 09;35(9):e21812

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, China.

Blastocysts hatch from the zona pellucida (ZP) to enable implantation into the uterine endometrial epithelium, but little is known regarding the effect of hatching sites on pregnancy outcomes. Murine hatching embryos were categorized into five groups based on initial trophectoderm projection (TEP)/ZP position corresponding to the inner cell mass center. In blastocysts (3.5 dpc) post-12 hours in vitro culture, TEP rates of A-site (44.4%) and B-site (38.6%) embryos were higher than those of C-site (12.5%) and D-site (3.1%) embryos, while the O-site (1.4%) was the lowest (P < .05). Post-ET A-site (55.6%) and B-site (65.6%) birth rates were higher than those of C-site embryos (21.3%) and controls (P < .05). Furthermore, live birth rate of B-site embryos remained higher than C-site embryos (68.8% vs 31.3%; P < .05) when both were transferred into the same recipients. Different TEP site blastocysts exhibited different implantation competences: the implantation rate of C-site embryos was lower than that of both A- and B-site groups (67.7% vs 84.3% and 83.2%, respectively; P < .05) at 2 days post-ET. C-site embryos also had a distinctly higher ratio of developmental defects (47.5%) than A- and B-site embryos (22.5% and 14.6%, respectively), with implantation failure mainly associated with poor birth rate, a finding corroborated by differential gene expression analysis such as LIF, LIFR, and S100a9. Surprisingly, acidified Tyrode's solution (AAH)-treated B-site blastocysts had a significantly increased birth rate (77.1%) than C-site (55.3%) and controls (43.4%). Site specificity and differential gene expression during embryo hatching can be applied in ART screening. More importantly, assisted hatching by AAH is effective and feasible for improving pregnancy and term development, particularly at the B-site, for humans and in animal husbandry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.202100653RDOI Listing
September 2021

Methyl-CpG-binding domain 3 (Mbd3) is an important regulator for apoptosis in mouse embryonic stem cells.

Am J Transl Res 2020 15;12(12):8147-8161. Epub 2020 Dec 15.

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University Nanjing 210046, PR China.

Methyl-CpG-binding domain 3 (Mbd3) is a core repressor complex component. Although Mbd3 is required for the pluripotency of embryonic stem cells (ES), the role of Mbd3 in mouse ES (mES) cell apoptosis remains undefined. In this study naïve-state mES were derived and maintained in the presence of a selective protein kinase C pathway inhibitor (PKCi; Gӧ6983) to study the function of Mbd3 during mES apoptosis. Mbd3 overexpression in mES decreased the total cell number and viability, and it also dramatically increased the rate of apoptosis. Further investigation of Mbd3 overexpression revealed a 3-fold increase in the proapoptotic/prosurvival protein ratio (Bax/Bcl-2) and elevated RNA expression levels of apoptosis-related genes, including , and , with reduced RNA expression levels. Removal of PKCi from the mES cell culture resulted in upregulated Mbd3 expression and apoptosis, similar to the effects of Mbd3 overexpression. Furthermore, specific knockdown of endogenous Mbd3 partially rescued the mES apoptosis induced by the removal of PKCi, thus increasing the total cell number and viability while decreasing the rate of apoptosis. Additionally, , and RNA expression levels were partially reduced, and that of was partially increased. Our findings support Mbd3 as a pivotal regulator of apoptosis in mES.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7791517PMC
December 2020

Combined treatment with cysteamine and leukemia inhibitory factor promotes guinea pig oocyte meiosis .

Am J Transl Res 2019 15;11(12):7479-7491. Epub 2019 Dec 15.

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University Nanjing 210046, P. R. China.

The guinea pig is an excellent but underused animal model due to its reproductive biology, which poses difficulties in inducing superovulation, embryo manipulation , and embryo transfer. We examined the effects of cysteamine (Cys), leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), and Y27632 on guinea pig oocyte maturation (IVM). Cumulus-oocyte complexes were collected from antral follicles and classified into three different types before IVM. Among type I oocytes, maturation rates to metaphase II (MII) were similar in basal maturation medium and medium supplemented with Cys or LIF (39.5-40.9%), but combined Cys and LIF treatment increased the MII rate to 61.8%. Supplementation with Y27632 alone or in combination with Cys and LIF dramatically reduced the MII rate (27.7-29.7%). Similar trends were observed for type II oocytes, although their overall MII rate was lower than that of type I oocytes. The MII rate was higher among oocytes collected from 2-month-old guinea pigs compared with those from 4-month-old guinea pigs (56.5 vs. 44.8%). The optimal IVM duration was 24 h (52.5%), as 36 or 48 h of IVM reduced the MII rate (32.8-42.5%). Furthermore, Y27632 reduced the presence of microfilaments in oocytes. These findings indicate that combined supplementation of maturation medium with Cys and LIF, but not Y27632, improves the maturation efficiency of guinea pig oocytes. This study provides an important scientific basis for further efforts toward guinea pig fertilization, cloning, and gene editing by establishing an animal model for human reproduction and related diseases.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6943477PMC
December 2019

Deriving rabbit embryonic stem cells by small molecule inhibitors.

Am J Transl Res 2019 15;11(8):5122-5133. Epub 2019 Aug 15.

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University Nanjing 210046, Jiangsu, P. R. China.

We previously developed pluripotent rabbit embryonic stem cells (rbES) using a culture system supplemented with basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), noggin and Y-27632 (referred to as iFLY). In present work, we explored multiple approaches to enhance the chance of deriving domed pluripotent rbES cells by inhibition of MEK, GSK, and PKC signaling pathways. Domed stated rbES were derived in defined medium supplemented with 15% KOSR, 10 IU/mL mouse LIF, 10 ng/mL bFGF and three inhibitors to the MEK (PD0325901, 1 µM), GSK3 (CHIR99021, 3 µM) and PKC (Gö6983, 5 µM) (3i). Domed rbES were passaged every 3-4 days till passage 3-4 for the designated experiments. We showed that bFGF and LIF are indispensable for the derivation and maintenance of rbES; whereas the 3i medium containing inhibitors to the MEK (PD0325901), GSK3 (CHIR99021) and PKC (Gö6983) were necessary for deriving domed rbES. Domed rbES possessed naïve ES markers as and in addition to and by RT-PCR. Domed rbES showed positive staining for Rex1, Fgf4, Klf4, Nanog and Oct4 by immunofluorescence chemistry. Further deleting either one factor in 3i medium as CHIR99021, PD0325901, Gö6983 or bFGF resulted in disappearing of domed rbES colonies. The optimal concentrations of 3i contained 0.75 µM PD0325901, 2.25 µM CHIR99021, and 4.5 µM Gö6983. Our work, in combination of different inhibitors for deriving rabbit ES, supports that the network of signal pathways plays an important role in ES self-renew, propagation and maintenance, and sheds light on deriving authentic properties of rbES in an important yet understudied model animal species.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6731393PMC
August 2019

Magnesium is a critical element for competent development of bovine embryos.

Theriogenology 2019 Dec 13;140:109-116. Epub 2019 Aug 13.

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, 210023, PR China; Renova Life, Inc., College Park, MD, 20742, USA. Electronic address:

The study was designed to determine the impact of magnesium (Mg) on bovine embryo development. We found that two commercially available sources of bovine serum albumin (BSA) and fetal bovine serum (FBS) contained different amounts of Mg residue: 4 ppm in ICPbio BSA, 114 ppm in Sigma BSA, and 44 ppm in FBS. When CR1 was used as basal medium, PVA and ICPbio BSA produced the lowest blastocyst yield (2.2-2.3%), whereas Sigma BSA increased blastocyst yield to 18.9% (P < 0.05). Supplementation of 1.4 mM MgCl into the medium increased the blastocyst rate in the ICPbio BSA group (29.4%) but not in the PVA group (5.4%; P < 0.05) to a level comparable to that of the FBS group (33.7%; P > 0.05). We next found that increasing concentrations of MgCl in the culture medium (ICPbio BSA) elevated blastocyst rate from 2.6% (0 mM), 38.4% (0.35 mM) to 50.2% (1.4 mM; P < 0.05), further maintained at 44.9% (2.1 mM) and 43.4% (2.8 mM) (P > 0.05). However, blastocyst rate was reduced to 31.4% (4.2 mM) and 29.4% (5.6 mM) when MgCl supplement was increased (P < 0.05). Comparable blastocyst development was achieved in both ICPbio BSA (30.0-33.1%) and Sigma BSA (37.4-38.7%) groups when 1.4 mM Mg was supplemented regardless of its source (MgCl vs. MgSO; P > 0.05). In embryo transfer experiments, higher rates of pregnancy (54.3 vs. 41.5%) and calving (44.3 vs. 32.5%) were achieved in the CR1-Mg-supplemented BSA group compared with the FBS group with co-culture, respectively (P < 0.05). These results demonstrate that Mg is a key ion that promotes competent blastocyst and term development. Therefore, a simple and efficient defined medium (CR1-Mg-BSA) can successfully replace complex serum and somatic cell co-culture.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2019.08.015DOI Listing
December 2019

Dynamic patterns of H3K4me3, H3K27me3, and Nanog during rabbit embryo development.

Am J Transl Res 2019 15;11(1):430-441. Epub 2019 Jan 15.

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University Nanjing 210046, PR China.

Epigenetic modification and expression of key pluripotent factors are critical for development, cell fate determination, and differentiation in early embryos. In this study, we systematically examined the dynamic patterns of histone modifications (H3K4me3 and H3K27me3) and Nanog expression during the development of preimplantation rabbit embryos. Rabbit oocytes, 1-, 2-, 4-, 8-, and 16-cell embryos, morulae, and blastocysts were collected at specific time points following superovulation and assessed for nuclear H3K4me3, H3K27me3, and Nanog expression by immunofluorescence microscopy. The frequency of H3K4me3-positive nuclear staining was highest in oocytes through 4-cell embryos (100%), decreased in 8-cell (97.2%) and 16-cell (94.4%) embryos ( > 0.05), declined dramatically in morulae (86.7%) (1- through 8-cell embryos vs morulae, < 0.05), and was the lowest in blastocysts (76.2%) ( < 0.05). Nuclear staining of H3K27me3 was negative in oocytes and embryos through the 16-cell stage but was positive in 25.9% of morulae and 34.2% of blastocyst ( < 0.05). Similarly, rabbit oocytes and embryos through the 16-cell stage did not express Nanog, but Nanog was expressed in 24.9% of morulae and 36.5% of blastocysts ( < 0.05). The observed decrease in H3K4me3 and increase in H3K27me3 as development progressed in preimplantation rabbit embryos, together with late Nanog expression, indicates a correlation of these factors with early embryonic cell fate determination and differentiation. Our study provides a specific and dynamic profile of histone modifications and gene expression that will be important for the derivation of rabbit embryonic stem cells and improving rabbit cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6357316PMC
January 2019

ROCK inhibitor Y-27632 maintains the propagation and characteristics of hair follicle stem cells.

Am J Transl Res 2018 15;10(11):3689-3700. Epub 2018 Nov 15.

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University Nanjing 210046, PR China.

Hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs) are an important source for skin tissue engineering studies and clinical applications. Here, we describe a differential enrichment approach to derive HFSCs from hair follicles of vibrissae and ear skin using the Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) inhibitor Y-27632. In the presence of Y-27632, primary cultured hair follicle cells grew in clustered colonies surrounded by keratinocyte-like cells and simultaneously expressed three HFSC markers: CD34, K15, and ITGB1. HFSCs cultured in medium containing Y-27632 were presented at a stable ratio of 30.7%, 34.1%, and 32.9% after passages 5, 10, and 15, respectively. By contrast, in medium containing epidermal growth factor, clustered HFSC colonies disappeared after 6 passages and lacked HFSC marker expression. After withdrawal of Y-27632 from the medium, HFSCs rapidly differentiated into keratinocyte-like cells. Furthermore, HFSCs derived with Y-27632 formed spherical clusters in collagen matrix , differentiated into keratinocytes and adipose cells under induction conditions, and cooperated with fetal dermal cells to regenerate hair follicles 6 weeks after their intracutaneous injection into immune-deficient mice. These findings suggest that Y-27632 maintains the self-renewal and stemness characteristics of HFSCs during primary skin tissue culture followed by enrichment passaging and that HFSCs derived with Y-27632 possess the differentiation potentials important for tissue engineering and other clinical applications.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6291721PMC
November 2018

Generating Goat Mammary Gland Bioreactors for Producing Recombinant Proteins by Gene Targeting.

Methods Mol Biol 2019 ;1874:391-401

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, China.

Exogenous genes can be site-specifically integrated into the genomic DNA of animals by homologous recombination, generating transgenic animals. These animals have a clear hereditary background, although position effects of the exogenous genes and potential functional disruption of host genes can be caused by the genetic inserts. Therefore, the generation of mammary gland bioreactors via gene-targeting methods is a great asset for producing recombinant proteins in milk. Here, we describe a method of generating gene-targeted goats with the human alpha-lactalbumin gene (hα-LA) integrated into the beta-lactoglobulin gene (BLG) locus. The milk from these goats will be less allergenic and will be enriched with components of human milk protein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-8831-0_23DOI Listing
June 2019

Synergistic effect of cysteamine, leukemia inhibitory factor, and Y27632 on goat oocyte maturation and embryo development in vitro.

Theriogenology 2018 Mar 26;108:56-62. Epub 2017 Nov 26.

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, PR China; Renova Life Inc., College Park, MD 20742, USA. Electronic address:

Goat oocyte in vitro maturation is associated with a variable efficiency of embryo development after in vitro fertilization (IVF). Here, we developed a novel maturation procedure to evaluate the cellular effect of cysteamine (Cys), leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and Y27632 on oocyte in vitro maturation in native Chinese Yangtze river white goats. Oocytes were collected by slicing ovary tissues and matured for 24 h in vitro prior to IVF. Presumptive fertilized oocytes were cultured in embryo media for 8 days. Maturation rates were similar in gonadotropin basal maturation medium and the same medium supplemented with Cys, LIF, or Y27362 (41.0-48.0%; P > 0.05). However, when two substances were co-supplemented into the medium, the maturation rate was higher in the Cys+LIF group than in the LIF+Y27362 and Cys+Y27362 groups (60.0% vs. 43.1% and 25.8%, respectively; P < 0.05). Co-supplementation of all three substances into the medium achieved the highest maturation rate (67.5%; P < 0.05). Compared with oocytes in gonadotropin basal maturation medium, those in medium supplemented with Cys showed increased fertilization (56.1% vs. 72.1%), cleavage (36.7% vs. 44.8%), and blastocyst development (1.7% vs. 4.2%), respectively (P < 0.05). Cys+LIF supplementation further improved fertilization (81.6%), cleavage (54.9%), and blastocyst development (6%; P < 0.05). Furthermore, combined supplementation of all three substances resulted in the best fertilization (84.9%), cleavage (70.7%), and blastocyst development (10.3%; P < 0.05). Resultant IVF blastocysts possessed an average cell number as high as 276 ± 45 per embryo. This is the first study to report increased efficiency of caprine oocyte maturation by combined Cys, LIF, and Y27632 supplementation into basal maturation medium, leading to improved fertilization and embryo development in vitro post-IVF.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2017.11.028DOI Listing
March 2018

Significant heparin effect on bovine embryo development during sexed in vitro fertilization.

J Reprod Dev 2017 Apr 5;63(2):175-183. Epub 2017 Feb 5.

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, PR China.

The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of different heparin concentrations in the course of sexed in vitro fertilization (IVF), on bovine embryonic development and development to term following embryo transfer (ET). With a total of 9156 oocytes for IVF, sorted as well as unsorted sperm from four bulls had different heparin requirements for achieving the highest rate of development in vitro. However, when optimal heparin concentrations were used (40 to 80 µg/ml), the performance of X-sorted sperm (0.3 × 10/ml/IVF droplet) from all four bulls, as judged by blastocyst development (Bulls A, B, C, and D: 25.2, 19.7, 25.1, and 9.8%, respectively), was significantly increased, and the blastocyst rate was comparable to that observed with unsorted sperm at certain heparin concentrations within the four bulls. We determined that near-optimal blastocyst development was possible with sorted sperm from all four bulls, when a heparin concentration of 40 µg/ml was used. Pregnancy rates at d 70 post ET ranged from 39.1 to 40.3% (P > 0.05), and the calving rates ranged from 34.4 to 35.1% (P > 0.05), when heparin was used at a concentration of 10 μg/ml (n = 236), 20 μg/ml (n = 189), and 40 μg/ml (n = 305), respectively. Our study demonstrates that, although the sorted sperm of different bulls performed optimally over a range of heparin concentrations, a generally accepted heparin concentration of 40 µg/ml can be set for sexed IVF. This improvement is beneficial when sexed embryo production by ovum pickup and IVF is an essential component of genetic breeding programs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1262/jrd.2016-142DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5401811PMC
April 2017

Efficient generation of FVII gene knockout mice using CRISPR/Cas9 nuclease and truncated guided RNAs.

Sci Rep 2016 05 3;6:25199. Epub 2016 May 3.

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, P R China.

We investigated the effects of 5'-end truncated CRISPR RNA-guided Cas9 nuclease (tru-RGN, 17/18 nucleotides) on genome editing capability in NIH/3T3 cells, and its efficiencies on generating Factor VII (FVII) gene-knockout (KO) mice. In cultured cells, RGNs on-target editing activity had been varied when gRNAs was truncated, higher at Site Two (tF7-2 vs. F7-2, 49.5 vs. 30.1%) while lower in other two sites (Site One, tF7-1 vs.F7-1, 12.1 vs. 23.6%; Site Three, tF7-3 vs.F7-3, 7.7 vs 10.9%) (P < 0.05). Out of 15 predicated off-target sites, tru-RGNs showed significantly decreased frequencies at 5 sites. By microinjecting tru-RGN RNAs into zygotes, FVII KO mice were generated with higher efficiency at Site Two (80.1 vs. 35.8%) and Site One (55.0 vs 3.7%) (P < 0.05), but not at Site three (39.4 vs 27.8%) (P > 0.05) when compared with standard RGN controls. Knockout FVII mice demonstrated a delayed prothrombin time and decreased plasma FVII expression. Our study first demonstrates that truncated gRNAs to 18 complementary nucleotides and Cas9 nucleases, can effectively generate FVII gene KO mice with a significantly higher efficiency in a site-dependent manner. In addition, the off-target frequency was much lower in KO mice than in cell lines via RGN expression vector-mediated genome editing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep25199DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4853708PMC
May 2016

Derivation of Rabbit Embryonic Stem Cells from Vitrified-Thawed Embryos.

Cell Reprogram 2015 Dec 18;17(6):453-62. Epub 2015 Nov 18.

2 Renova Life, Inc. , College Park, Maryland 20742.

The rabbit is a useful animal model for regenerative medicine. We previously developed pluripotent rabbit embryonic stem cell (rbESC) lines using fresh embryos. We also successfully cryopreserved rabbit embryos by vitrification. In the present work, we combined these two technologies to derive rbESCs using vitrified-thawed (V/T) embryos. We demonstrate that V/T blastocysts (BLs) can be used to derive pluripotent rbESCs with efficiencies comparable to those using fresh BLs. These ESCs are undistinguishable from the ones derived from fresh embryos. We tested the developmental capacity of rbESCs derived from V/T embryos by BL injection experiments and produced chimeric kits. Our work adds cryopreservation to the toolbox of rabbit stem cell research and applications and will greatly expand the available research materials for regenerative medicine in a clinically relevant animal model.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cell.2015.0044DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4677569PMC
December 2015

Efficient cryopreservation of mouse embryos by modified droplet vitrification (MDV).

Cryobiology 2015 Aug 27;71(1):70-6. Epub 2015 May 27.

Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Molecular and Medical Biotechnology, College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, PR China; Renova Life Inc., College Park, MD 20742, USA. Electronic address:

The aim of this study was to assess modified droplet vitrification (MDV) for the cryopreservation of early developmental mouse embryos. Mouse embryos were equilibrated in holding solution for 3 min followed by immersion in vitrification solution for 30-45 s, and then three embryos per 3-μL vitrification droplet were directly dropped into liquid nitrogen. Vitrified embryos were warmed to examine their developmental potential both in vitro and in vivo. The results demonstrated that MDV vitrified and warmed embryos had a survival rate of 98.1-99.6% (P>0.05); however, blastocyst development post warming and culture in vitro demonstrated that vitrified 4-celled, 8-celled, 16-celled, morulae, and blastocyst embryos had significant higher developmental potentials (94.7-99.5%) than those from zygotes (9.2%) and 2-celled embryos (85.7%) (P<0.05). Compared to CryoLoop and CryoTech vitrification, MDV showed similar results with regards to rates of survival, blastocyst development, but with the higher hatching rate (76.1% vs. 64.0-67.3%) (P<0.05). Cryopreservation by MDV resulted in a similar blastocyst developmental potential in 4-celled and 16 celled embryos from ICR (94.7-99.5%), C57BL/6J (94.7-96.4%), and their crossbred F1 strain (97.9-98.9%) (P>0.05). After embryo transfer of vitrified ICR embryos from 4-celled, 16-celled, morulae and blastocyst stage, 40.7-43.7% of the embryos developed into live offspring (P>0.05), but MDV vitrification resulted in the highest birth rate (43.8%) compared to CryoLoop (38.3%) and CryoTech (35.4%) (P<0.05), when 4-celled mouse embryos were used for vitrification. Our study clearly demonstrated that MDV is the most efficient vitrification to cryopreserve embryos at least 4-celled and advanced stages, which can be used to preserve important mouse genomes from different strains and different developmental stages.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cryobiol.2015.05.067DOI Listing
August 2015

Monitoring bovine fetal fibroblast reprogramming utilizing a bovine NANOG promoter-driven EGFP reporter system.

Mol Reprod Dev 2013 Mar 28;80(3):193-203. Epub 2013 Jan 28.

College of Veterinary Medicine, Shaanxi Center for Stem Cell Engineering and Technology, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, P.R. China.

NANOG is an essential transcription factor involved in the proliferation and maintenance of embryonic stem cells (ESC) and reprogramming of somatic cells to a pluripotent state. Oct4 and Nanog promoter-driven enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) reporters have been employed for establishing lines of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) from mouse, human, and pig. In ruminants, including cattle, in which no fully validated ESC lines have been established, iPSC generated by reprogramming somatic cells to an ESC-like state may prove useful in the production of genetically modified livestock. In this study, utility of the bovine NANOG reporter was tested for use with cattle. Seven proximal bovine NANOG promoter fragments of different size were fused to the LUC gene, and were tested in mouse ESC lines using a dual-luciferase assay. Three of the bovine NANOG promoters, 315 bp (-134/+181), 446 bp (-265/+181), and 1,100 bp (-919/+181), were fused to a nuclear localized signal EGFP reporter gene. The fidelity of these constructs was analyzed by transfection into mouse ESC and bovine fetal fibroblasts (bFFs), and subsequent reprogramming of the bFF. Fusion of the transgenic bFF with human teratocarcinoma (NTERA2) cells induced nuclear expression of the EGFP reporter. Similarly, bFF-derived somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) embryos expressed EGFP in a stage- and location-appropriate manner. Following reprogramming of transgenic bFFs for 10 days with an Oct4-Sox2-Klf4-cMyc vector, iPSC expressed EGFP and alkaline phosphatase. These results indicate that NANOG reporters can be used to monitor nuclear reprogramming of bFFs and to distinguish cell allocation in SCNT-derived embryos.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mrd.22147DOI Listing
March 2013

Dynamic profiles of Oct-4, Cdx-2 and acetylated H4K5 in in-vivo-derived rabbit embryos.

Reprod Biomed Online 2012 Oct 17;25(4):358-70. Epub 2012 Jul 17.

Institute of Biotechnology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.

This study documents the spatial and temporal distribution of Oct-4, Cdx-2 and acetylated H4K5 (H4K5ac) by immunocytochemistry staining using in-vivo-derived rabbit embryos at different stages: day-3 compact morulae, day-4 early blastocysts, day-4 expanded blastocysts, day-5 blastocysts, day-6 blastocysts and day-7 blastocysts. The Oct-4 signal was stronger in the inner cell mass (ICM)/epiblast cells than in the trophectoderm (TE) cells in all blastocyst stages except day-4 expanded blastocysts, where the signal was similarly weak in both the ICM and TE cells. The Cdx-2 signal was first detected in a small number of TE cells of day-4 early blastocysts, and became evident in the TE cells exclusively afterwards. A consistently strong H4K5ac signal was observed in the TE cells in all blastocyst stages examined. In particular, this signal was stronger in the TE than in the ICM cells in day-4 early blastocysts, day-4 expanded blastocysts and day-5 blastocysts. Double staining of H4K5ac with either Oct-4 or Cdx-2 on embryos at different blastocyst stages confirmed these findings. This work suggests that day 4 is a critical timing for lineage formation in rabbit embryos. A combination of Oct-4, Cdx-2 and H4K5ac can be used as biomarkers to identify different lineage cells in rabbit blastocysts.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rbmo.2012.07.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3465499PMC
October 2012

Recombinant rabbit leukemia inhibitory factor and rabbit embryonic fibroblasts support the derivation and maintenance of rabbit embryonic stem cells.

Cell Reprogram 2012 Aug 9;14(4):364-76. Epub 2012 Jul 9.

Renova Life Inc., University of Maryland, TAP program, College Park, MD 20740, USA.

The rabbit is a classical experimental animal species. A major limitation in using rabbits for biomedical research is the lack of germ-line-competent rabbit embryonic stem cells (rbESCs). We hypothesized that the use of homologous feeder cells and recombinant rabbit leukemia inhibitory factor (rbLIF) might improve the chance in deriving germ-line-competent rbES cells. In the present study, we established rabbit embryonic fibroblast (REF) feeder layers and synthesized recombinant rbLIF. We derived a total of seven putative rbESC lines, of which two lines (M5 and M23) were from culture Condition I using mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) as feeders supplemented with human LIF (hLIF) (MEF+hLIF). Another five lines (R4, R9, R15, R21, and R31) were derived from Condition II using REFs as feeder cells supplemented with rbLIF (REF+rbLIF). Similar derivation efficiency was observed between these two conditions (8.7% vs. 10.2%). In a separate experiment with 2×3 factorial design, we examined the effects of feeder cells (MEF vs. REF) and LIFs (mLIF, hLIF vs. rbLIF) on rbESC culture. Both Conditions I and II supported satisfactory rbESC culture, with similar or better population doubling time and colony-forming efficiency than other combinations of feeder cells with LIFs. Rabbit ESCs derived and maintained on both conditions displayed typical ESC characteristics, including ESC pluripotency marker expression (AP, Oct4, Sox2, Nanog, and SSEA4) and gene expression (Oct4, Sox2, Nanog, c-Myc, Klf4, and Dppa5), and the capacity to differentiate into three primary germ layers in vitro. The present work is the first attempt to establish rbESC lines using homologous feeder cells and recombinant rbLIF, by which the rbESCs were derived and maintained normally. These cell lines are unique resources and may facilitate the derivation of germ-line-competent rbESCs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cell.2012.0001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3411342PMC
August 2012

Spatial and temporal distribution of Oct-4 and acetylated H4K5 in rabbit embryos.

Reprod Biomed Online 2012 Apr 10;24(4):433-42. Epub 2012 Jan 10.

Institute of Biotechnology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC.

Rabbit is a unique species to study human embryology; however, there are limited reports on the key transcription factors and epigenetic events of rabbit embryos. This study examined the Oct-4 and acetylated H4K5 (H4K5ac) patterns in rabbit embryos using immunochemistry staining. The average intensity of the Oct-4 signal in the nuclei of the whole embryo spiked upon fertilization, then decreased until the 8-cell stage and increased afterwards until the compact morula (CM) stage. It decreased thereafter from the CM stage to the early blastocyst (EB) stage, with a minimum at the expanded blastocyst (EXPB) stage and came back to a level similar to that of the CM-stage embryos in the hatching blastocysts (HB). The Oct-4 signal was observed in both the inner cell mass (ICM) and the trophectoderm (TE) cells of blastocysts. The average H4K5ac signal intensity of the whole embryo increased upon fertilization, started to decrease at the 4-cell stage, reached a minimum at the 8-cell stage, increased again at the EXPB stage and peaked at the HB stage. While TE cells maintained similar levels of H4K5ac throughout the blastocyst stages, ICM cells of HB showed higher levels of H4K5ac than those of EB and EXPB. Understanding key genetic and epigenetic events during early embryo development will help to identify factors contributing to embryo losses and consequently improve embryo survival rates. As a preferred laboratory species for many human disease studies such as atherosclerosis, rabbit is also a pioneer species in the development of several embryo biotechnologies, such as IVF, transgenesis, animal cloning, embryo cryopreservation and embryonic stem cells. However, there are limited reports on key transcription factors and epigenetic events of rabbit embryos. In the present study, we documented the temporal and spatial distribution of Oct-4 protein and H4K5 acetylation during early embryo development using the immunostaining approach. We also compared the patterns of these two important biomarkers between the inner cell mass (ICM) and the trophectoderm (TE) cells in blastocyst-stage embryos. Our findings suggest that a combination of Oct-4, H4K5ac and possibly other biomarkers such as Cdx-2 is needed to accurately identify different lineages of cells in morula and blastocyst stage rabbit embryos. Importantly, we revealed a novel wave of Oct-4 intensity change in the ICM cells of rabbit blastocysts. The signal was high at the early blastocyst stage, reached a minimum at the expanded blastocyst stage and returned to a high level at the hatching blastocyst stage. We hypothesize that the signal may have reflected the regulation of Oct-4 through enhancer switching and therefore may be related to cell lineage formation in rabbit embryos. These findings enrich our understanding on key genetic and epigenetic programming events during early embryo development in rabbits.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rbmo.2012.01.001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3320679PMC
April 2012

Stem cells and nuclear reprogramming.

Stem Cells Int 2011 26;2011:584686. Epub 2011 Oct 26.

Renova Life Inc., University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.4061/2011/584686DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3205737PMC
August 2012

Follicular oocytes better support development in rabbit cloning than oviductal oocytes.

Cell Reprogram 2011 Dec 26;13(6):503-12. Epub 2011 Oct 26.

Institute of Biotechnology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.

This study was conducted to determine the effect of rabbit oocytes collected from ovaries or oviducts on the developmental potential of nuclear transplant embryos. Donor nuclei were obtained from adult skin fibroblasts, cumulus cells, and embryonic blastomeres. Rabbit oocytes were flushed from the oviducts (oviductal oocytes) or aspirated from the ovaries (follicular oocytes) of superovulated does at 10, 11, or 12 h post-hCG injection. The majority of collected oocytes were still attached to the sites of ovulation on the ovaries. We found that follicular oocytes had a significantly higher rate of fusion with nuclear donor cells than oviductal oocytes. There was no difference in the cleavage rate between follicular and oviductal groups, but morula and blastocyst development was significantly higher in the follicular group than in the oviductal group. Two live clones were produced in follicular group using blastomere and cumulus nuclear donors, whereas one live clone was produced in the oviductal group using a cumulus nuclear donor. These results demonstrate that cloned rabbit embryos derived from follicular oocytes have better developmental competence than those derived from oviductal oocytes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cell.2011.0030DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3229818PMC
December 2011

Oocyte source and hormonal stimulation for in vitro fertilization using sexed spermatozoa in cattle.

Vet Med Int 2010 Sep 5;2011. Epub 2010 Sep 5.

Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena, 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.

The aim of this study was to investigate the efficiency of in vitro embryo production in cattle utilizing sexed sperm from two bulls and oocytes recovered by OPU. Twenty donor animals were employed in eight OPU replicates: the first four OPU trials were conducted on animals without hormone treatment, and the last four were run on the same animals, following FSH subcutaneous and intramuscular administration. A higher rate of blastocyst development was recorded in stimulated, as compared to nonstimulated animals, (25.2% versus 12.8%, P = .001). Ocytes derived from slaughterhouse (SH) ovaries were also fertilized with sperm from the same bulls. Overall, non-sexed sperm used with oocytes derived from SH ovaries was significantly more efficient for blastocyst development than was sexed sperm with these same SH derived oocytes and sexed sperm with stimulated donor oocytes (39.8% versus 25.0% and 25.2%, P = .001). In conclusion, the use of sexed sperm with OPU-derived oocytes resulted in a significantly higher blastocyst development when donors were hormonally stimulated; furthermore, the level of efficiency achieved was comparable to that attained when the same sexed sperm was tested on oocytes derived from SH ovaries.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4061/2011/145626DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2946594PMC
September 2010

Beneficial effect of young oocytes for rabbit somatic cell nuclear transfer.

Cloning Stem Cells 2009 Mar;11(1):131-40

Evergen Biotechnologies, Inc, Vernon, Connecticut 06066, USA.

This study was designed to examine the effect of the age of rabbit oocytes on the developmental potential of cloned embryos. The metaphase II oocytes used for nuclear transfer (NT) were collected at 10, 12, 14, and 16 h post-hCG injection (hpi). The total number of oocytes collected per donor (21.4-23.7) at 12 to 16 hpi was similar, but significantly higher than that collected at 10 hpi (16.2). Additionally, a significant improvement in blastocyst development was achieved with embryos generated by electrically mediated cell fusion (56.0%), compared to those from nuclear injection (13.1 %) (Experiment 1). Markedly higher blastocyst development (45.8-54.5%) was also achieved with oocytes collected at 10-12 hpi than from those collected 14-16 hpi (8.3-14.3%) (Experiment 2). In Experiment 3, the blastocyst rates of NT embryos derived from oocytes harvested 12 hpi (39.2-42.8 %) were significantly higher than from those collected at 16 hpi (6.8-8.4 %) (p < 0.05), regardless of the donor cell age. Kinase activity assays showed variable changes of activity in rabbit oocytes over the period of 10-16 hpi; however, there was no correlation with preimplantational development (blastocyst rate vs. MPF, R = 0.326; blastocyst rate vs. MAPK, R = -0.131). Embryo transfer of NT embryos utilizing 12 hpi oocytes resulted in one full-term but stillborn, and one live cloned rabbit; thus, an efficiency of 1.7 % (n = 117) (Experiment 4). These results demonstrated that NT utilizing relatively young rabbit oocytes, harvested at 10-12 h after hCG injection, was beneficial for the development of NT embryos.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/clo.2008.0042DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897696PMC
March 2009

Gene expression profiling of single bovine embryos uncovers significant effects of in vitro maturation, fertilization and culture.

Mol Reprod Dev 2009 Jan;76(1):38-47

Center for Regenerative Biology/Department of Animal Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA.

In vitro production (IVP) has been shown to affect embryonic gene expression and often result in large offspring syndrome (LOS) in cattle and sheep. To dissect the effects of in vitro maturation, fertilization and culture on bovine embryos, we compared the expression profiles of single blastocysts generated by: (1) in vitro maturation, fertilization and culture (IVF); (2) in vivo maturation, fertilization and in vitro culture (IVD); and (3) in vivo maturation, fertilization and development (AI). To conduct expression profiling, total RNA was isolated from individual embryos, linearly amplified and hybridized to a custom bovine cDNA microarray containing approximately 6,300 unique genes. There were 306, 367, and 200 genes differentially expressed between the AI and IVD, IVF and IVD, and AI and IVF comparisons, respectively. Interestingly, 44 differentially expressed genes were identified between the AI embryos and both the IVF and IVD embryos, making these potential candidates for LOS. There were 60 genes differentially expressed between the IVF embryos and the AI and IVD embryos. The Gene Ontology category "RNA processing" was over-represented among the genes that were down-regulated in the IVF embryos, indicating an effect of in vitro oocyte maturation/fertilization on the ability to transcribe maternal RNA stores. A culture effect on the expression of genes involved in translation was also observed by the comparison of AI with IVD embryos.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mrd.20927DOI Listing
January 2009

Premature chromosome condensation is not essential for nuclear reprogramming in bovine somatic cell nuclear transfer.

Biol Reprod 2007 Feb 15;76(2):232-40. Epub 2006 Nov 15.

Department of Animal Science/Center for Regenerative Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269, USA.

Premature chromosome condensation (PCC) was believed to promote nuclear reprogramming and to facilitate cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer (NT) in mammalian species. However, it is still uncertain whether PCC is necessary for the successful reprogramming of an introduced donor nucleus in cattle. In the present study, fused NT embryos were subjected to immediate activation (IA, simultaneous fusion and activation), delayed activation (DA, activation applied 4 h postfusion), and IA with aged oocytes (IAA, activation at the same oocyte age as group DA). The morphologic changes, such as nuclear swelling, the occurrence of PCC, and microtubule/aster formation, were analyzed in detail by laser-scanning confocal microscopy. When embryos were subjected to IA in both IA and IAA groups, the introduced nucleus gradually became swollen, and a pronuclear-like structure formed within the oocyte, but PCC was not observed. In contrast, delaying embryo activation resulted in 46.5%-91.2% of NT embryos exhibiting PCC. This PCC was observed beginning at 4 h postcell fusion and was shown as one, two, or multiple chromosomal complexes. Subsequently, a diversity of pronuclear-like structures existed in NT embryos, characterized as single, double, and multiple nuclei. In the oocytes exhibiting PCC, the assembled spindle structure was observed to be an interactive mass, closely associated with condensed chromosomes, but no aster had formed. Regardless of whether they were subjected to IA, IAA, or DA treatments, if the oocytes contained pronuclear-like structures, either one or two asters were observed in proximity to the nuclei. A significantly higher rate of development to blastocysts was achieved in embryos that were immediately activated (IA, 59.1%; IAA, 40.7%) than in those for which activation was delayed (14.2%). The development rate was higher in group IA than in group IAA, but it was not significant (P = 0.089). Following embryo transfer, there was no statistically significant difference in the pregnancy rates (Day 70) between two of the groups (group IA, 11.7%, n = 94 vs. group DA, 12.3%, n = 130; P > 0.05) or live term development (group IA, 4.3% vs. group DA, 4.6%; P > 0.05). Our study has demonstrated that the IA of bovine NT embryos results in embryos with increased competence for preimplantational development. Moreover, PCC was shown to be unnecessary for the reprogramming of a transplanted somatic genome in a cattle oocyte.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1095/biolreprod.106.053561DOI Listing
February 2007

Global gene expression profiles reveal significant nuclear reprogramming by the blastocyst stage after cloning.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2005 Dec 28;102(49):17582-7. Epub 2005 Nov 28.

Center for Regenerative Biology/Department of Animal Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.

Nuclear transfer (NT) has potential applications in agriculture and biomedicine, but the technology is hindered by low efficiency. Global gene expression analysis of clones is important for the comprehensive study of nuclear reprogramming. Here, we compared global gene expression profiles of individual bovine NT blastocysts with their somatic donor cells and fertilized control embryos using cDNA microarray technology. The NT embryos' gene expression profiles were drastically different from those of their donor cells and closely resembled those of the naturally fertilized embryos. Our findings demonstrate that the NT embryos have undergone significant nuclear reprogramming by the blastocyst stage; however, problems may occur during redifferentiation for tissue genesis and organogenesis, and small reprogramming errors may be magnified downstream in development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0508952102DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1308920PMC
December 2005

Higher survival rate of vitrified and thawed in vitro produced bovine blastocysts following culture in defined medium supplemented with beta-mercaptoethanol.

Anim Reprod Sci 2006 Jun 11;93(1-2):61-75. Epub 2005 Aug 11.

Connecticut Center for Regenerative Biology, University of Connecticut, 1392 Storrs Rd., U-4243, Storrs, CT 06269-4243, USA.

The present study was conducted to compare bovine embryo developmental quality, after culture in different defined culture media, up to blastocyst stage, and subsequently cultured in media supplemented with beta-mercaptoethanol (beta-ME) following blastocyst vitrification and thawing. In part one of this study, presumptive zygotes were randomly allocated into the following media: (1) CR1, (2) KSOM, (3) SOF, and (4) sequential KSOM-SOF. In the second part of the study, blastocysts derived from four different culture media were subjected to a solid surface vitrification (35% (v/v) ethylene glycol+0.5M Sucrose+5% (w/v) Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), and tested for the effect of beta-ME on their post-vitrification survival. Following thawing, blastocysts were cultured with or without beta-ME. Culture medium had no effect on cleavage rates; however, a significantly greater number of zygotes cultured in KSOM, KSOM-SOF, or SOF developed to the 8-cell stage, compared with those cultured in CR1. A greater proportion of the zygotes cultured in SOF or KSOM-SOF reached blastocysts, than did those cultured in CR1 or KSOM. The use of sequential KSOM-SOF significantly increased total cell numbers of Day 7 expanded-blastocysts when compared to those cultured in CR1, KSOM, or SOF. Addition of beta-ME into culture media after vitrification and thawing improved blastocyst survival, hatching rates, and total cell numbers of blastocysts. In conclusion, supplementation of beta-ME into culture medium after vitrification and thawing significantly increased blastocyst survival, hatching rates, and their total cell numbers. These results suggest that vitrified IVF embryos should be thawed and briefly cultured in beta-ME medium prior to embryo transfer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anireprosci.2005.06.027DOI Listing
June 2006

The cell agglutination agent, phytohemagglutinin-L, improves the efficiency of somatic nuclear transfer cloning in cattle (Bos taurus).

Theriogenology 2006 Feb 19;65(3):642-57. Epub 2005 Jul 19.

Department of Animal Science, Center for Regenerative Biology, University of Connecticut, 1390 Storrs Road, Storrs, 06269, USA.

One of the several factors that contribute to the low efficiency of mammalian somatic cloning is poor fusion between the small somatic donor cell and the large recipient oocyte. This study was designed to test phytohemagglutinin (PHA) agglutination activity on fusion rate, and subsequent developmental potential of cloned bovine embryos. The toxicity of PHA was established by examining its effects on the development of parthenogenetic bovine oocytes treated with different doses (Experiment 1), and for different durations (Experiment 2). The effective dose and duration of PHA treatment (150 microg/mL, 20 min incubation) was selected and used to compare membrane fusion efficiency and embryo development following somatic cell nuclear transfer (Experiment 3). Cloning with somatic donor fibroblasts versus cumulus cells was also compared, both with and without PHA treatment (150 microg/mL, 20 min). Fusion rate of nuclear donor fibroblasts, after phytohemagglutinin treatment, was increased from 33 to 61% (P < 0.05), and from 59 to 88% (P < 0.05) with cumulus cell nuclear donors. The nuclear transfer (NT) efficiency per oocyte used was improved following PHA treatment, for both fibroblast (13% versus 22%) as well as cumulus cells (17% versus 34%; P < 0.05). The cloned embryos, both with and without PHA treatment, were subjected to vitrification and embryo transfer testing, and resulted in similar survival (approximately 90% hatching) and pregnancy rates (17-25%). Three calves were born following vitrification and embryo transfer of these embryos; two from the PHA-treated group, and one from non-PHA control group. We concluded that PHA treatment significantly improved the fusion efficiency of somatic NT in cattle, and therefore, increased the development of cloned blastocysts. Furthermore, within a determined range of dose and duration, PHA had no detrimental effect on embryo survival post-vitrification, nor on pregnancy or calving rates following embryo transfer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2005.05.052DOI Listing
February 2006

The differential requirement of albumin and sodium citrate on the development of in vitro produced bovine embryos.

Reprod Nutr Dev 2004 Nov-Dec;44(6):551-64

Department of Animal Science and Connecticut Center for Regenerative Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.

In vitro culture for bovine embryos is largely not optimal. Our study was to determine the components necessary for early embryo development. In experiment 1, IVF embryos were cultured for two days in CR1aa medium containing sodium citrate and BSA from two sources (Sigma vs. ICPbio), subsequently for additional five days with cumulus monolayer in 10% FBS CR1aa. We found that supplementation with both Sigma-BSA and sodium citrate significantly increased total blastocyst (BL) development compared with the ICPbio-BSA groups (37% vs. 19-21%), and enhanced the total number of high quality (C1 BL, IETS standard) blastocysts (26% vs. 11-17%) (P < 0.05). In experiment 2 with serum free and/or somatic free culture, we found that CR1aa culture can support a comparable embryo development with a supplement of Sigma BSA. The addition of sodium citrate did not increase blastocyst development in either the Sigma-BSA or the ICPbio-BSA groups. An inferior blastocyst development occurring in ICPbio-BSA culture (1-3%) could be rescued by culture in CRlaa supplemented with 10% FBS (29%), more importantly, by culture in CR1aa with a replacement of Sigma BSA (24%) (P <0.05). C1 blastocysts rescued by FBS and Sigma BSA in ICPbio-BSA culture possessed indistinguishable morphology to embryos developed in a Sigma-BSA, FBS and somatic co-culture system, showing similar cell number/blastocyst (129-180, P > 0.05). Our study found a beneficial effect of sodium citrate and BSA on the in vitro development of bovine IVF embryos during co-culture. We also determined that differential embryotrophic factor(s) contained in BSA and serum, probably not sodium citrate, is necessary for promoting competent morula and blastocyst development in cattle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/rnd:2004061DOI Listing
June 2005

Differential development of rabbit embryos derived from parthenogenesis and nuclear transfer.

Mol Reprod Dev 2004 May;68(1):58-64

Department of Animal Science and Center for Regenerative Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269-4243, USA.

Parthenogenetic development (PA) is often used as a model to investigate activation protocols for nuclear transfer (NT) embryos. The objective of this study was to compare the development, as well as the dynamics of the nuclear materials and microtubules of PA and NT embryos following similar activation treatment. Our results demonstrate that, during parthenogenesis, activation through either electrical pulses or chemical stimulation alone resulted in low cleavage rates and compromised development. A combination of two sets of electrical pulses and a 2-h-exposure to chemical activation medium (5 microg/ml cycloheximide (CHX) and 2 mM 6-dimethylaminopurine (6-DMAP) in KSOM+0.1% BSA) could effectively activate rabbit oocytes, and resulted in a 99% (n = 73) cleavage rate with greater than 60% (n = 73) developing to blastocysts at day 4. However, the same activation protocol following NT resulted in only 65-72% of oocytes cleaved (depending on donor cell type), with less than 20% developing to the blastocyst stage. The differences observed between NT and PA embryos subjected to the same activation protocol were also evident in terms of the time required for their development to the blastocyst stage, as well as the cell numbers present in blastocysts at day 6. Furthermore, laser confocal microscopy revealed that pronuclear formation in the NT embryos was delayed by comparison to that in the parthenotes. In conclusion, our study suggests that an effective protocol for parthenogenesis cannot promise a comparable outcome for NT embryos.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mrd.20045DOI Listing
May 2004

Differential cytoplast requirement for embryonic and somatic cell nuclear transfer in cattle.

Mol Reprod Dev 2002 Oct;63(2):183-91

Connecticut Center for Regenerative Biology, Department of Animal Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06269-4163, USA.

Effective activation of a recipient oocyte and its compatibility with the nuclear donor are critical to the successful nuclear reprogramming during nuclear transfer. We designed a series of experiments using various activation methods to determine the optimum activation efficiency of bovine oocytes. We then performed nuclear transfer (NT) of embryonic and somatic cells into cytoplasts presumably at G1/S phase (with prior activation) or at metaphase II (MII, without prior activation). Oocytes at 24 hr of maturation in vitro were activated with various combinations of calcium ionophore A23187 (A187) (5 microM, 5 min), electric pulse (EP), ethanol (7%, 7 min), cycloheximide (CHX) (10 micro g/ml, 6 hr), and then cultured in cytochalasin D (CD) for a total of 18 hr. Through a series of experiments (Exp. 1-4), an improved activation protocol (A187/EP/CHX/CD) was identified and used for comparison of NT efficiency of embryonic versus somatic donor cells (Exp. 5). When embryonic cells from morula and blastocysts (BL) were used as nuclear donors, a significantly higher rate of blastocyst development from cloned embryos was obtained with G1/S phase cytoplasts than with MII-phase cytoplasts (36 vs. 11%, P < 0.05). In contrast, when skin fibroblasts were used as donor cells, the use of an MII cytoplast (vs. G1/S phase) was imperative for blastocyst development (30 vs. 6%, P < 0.05). Differential staining showed that parthenogenetic, embryonic, and somatic cloned BL contained 26, 29, and 33% presumptive inner cell mass (ICM) cells, respectively, which is similar to that of frozen-thawed in vivo embryos at a comparable developmental stage (23%). These data indicate that embryonic and somatic nuclei require different recipient cytoplast environment for remodeling/ reprogramming, and this is likely due to the different cell cycle stage and profiles of molecular differentiation of the transferred donor nuclei.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mrd.10172DOI Listing
October 2002
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