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When 4- or 6-day ferret eggs were transferred to the Fallopain tubes of rabbits for 2 or 3 days and retransferred into uteri of pseudopregnant ferrets, only 4 to 8% of transferred eggs developed into foetuses. Following storage at 1 to 5° C for 2 or 3 days in a medium containing 20% of ferret serum, no 4-day ferret egg implanted but 8% of the 6-day eggs developed into foetuses. Following culture at 38° C in the same medium for 2 to 3 days, none of the 4-day eggs, but 59% of the 6-day eggs could have implanted.

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S C Mizrak, F Renault-Mihara, M Párraga, J Bogerd, H J G van de Kant, P P López-Casas, M Paz, J del Mazo and D G de Rooij

Phosphoprotein enriched in astrocytes (PEA-15) is a 15 kDa acidic serine-phosphorylated protein expressed in different cell types, especially in the CN. We initially detected the expression of PEA-15 in primary cultures of Sertoli cells. To assess the presence and localization of PEA-15 in the mouse testis, we studied the expression pattern of the PEA-15 protein by immunohistochemistry and mRNA by in situ hybridization. Both the protein and the mRNA of PEA-15 were localized in the cytoplasm of Sertoli cells, all types of spermatogonia, and spermatocytes up till zygotene phase of the meiotic prophase. Subsequently, with ongoing development of the spermatocytes, the expression decreased and was very low in the cytoplasm of diplotene spermatocytes. To analyze the possible role of PEA-15 in the developing testis, null mutants for PEA-15 were examined. As the PEA-15 C terminus contains residues for ERK binding, we studied possible differences between the localization of the ERK2 protein in wild type (WT) and PEA-15 −/−mice. In the WT testis, ERK2 was localized in the cytoplasm of Sertoli cells, B spermatogonia, preleptotene, leptotene, and zygotene spermatocytes, whereas in the KO testis, ERK2 was primarily localized in the nuclei of these cells and only little staining remained in the cytoplasm. Moreover, in PEA-15-deficient mice, significantly increased numbers of apoptotic spermatocytes were found, indicating an anti-apoptotic role of PEA-15 during the meiotic prophase. The increased numbers of apoptotic spermatocytes were not found at a specific step in the meiotic prophase.

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S Sancho, I Casas, H Ekwall, F Saravia, H Rodriguez-Martinez, J E Rodriguez-Gil, E Flores, E Pinart, M Briz, N Garcia-Gil, J Bassols, A Pruneda, E Bussalleu, M Yeste and S Bonet

This study evaluated the effects of cooling, freezing and thawing on the plasma membrane integrity, kinetics and expression of two sugar transporters glucose transporter-3 and -5 (GLUT-3 and GLUT-5) in spermatozoa from Iberian boars. Semen samples were collected twice weekly from eight young, fertile Iberian boars of the ‘Entrepelado’ and ‘Lampiño’ breeds. The samples were suspended in a commercial extender and refrigerated to 17 °C for transport to the laboratory (step A), where they were further extended with a lactose–egg yolk-based extender and chilled to 5 °C (step B) prior to freezing in the presence of glycerol (3%). Spermatozoa were assessed for plasma membrane integrity and sperm motility at each of the steps, including post-thaw (step C). Aliquots were also prepared for immunocytochemical localisation of the sugar transporters (fixed and thin smears for transmission and scanning electron microscopy levels respectively) and for SDS–PAGE electrophoresis and subsequent western blotting, using the same antibodies (rabbit anti-GLUT-3 and anti-GLUT-5 polyclonal antibodies). The results showed lower percentages of progressively motile spermatozoa at step C in both breeds, while the percentage of live spermatozoa was significantly lower only in the ‘Entrepelado’ breed. The results obtained from electron microscopy clearly showed that Iberian boar spermatozoa expressed the hexose transporters, GLUT-3 and GLUT-5. The pattern of expression, in terms of location and concentration, was characteristic in each case but, in the case of isoform GLUT-5, it remained constant during the different steps of freezing–thawing protocol. These results indicate that cryopreservation affects the status of sperm cells of Iberian boars by altering the distribution of some membrane receptors and decreasing the percentage values of parameters linked to sperm quality.