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Akiko Hasegawa, Nozomi Kanazawa, Hideaki Sawai, Shinji Komori and Koji Koyama

The zona pellucida, an extracellular matrix surrounding mammalian oocytes, is composed of three or four glycoproteins. It is well known that the zona pellucida plays several critical roles during fertilization, but there is little knowledge about its formation. The purpose of this study is to examine whether a pig zona pellucida glycoprotein 2 (pZP2) would assemble with mouse zona pellucida. A transgene construct was prepared by placing a minigene encoding pZP2 downstream from the promoter of mouse ZP2. The result showed that the transgenic protein was synthesized in growing oocytes but not incorporated into the zona pellucida. Furthermore, the pZP2 transgene did not rescue the phenotype in ZP2-knockout zona-deficient mice. These results indicate that pZP2 does not participate in mouse zona pellucida formation and the zona pellucida is constituted from its component proteins in a molecular species-specific manner between mice and pigs.

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Nahoko Mochida, Akiko Akatani-Hasegawa, Kayo Saka, Mai Ogino, Yoko Hosoda, Ryu Wada, Hideaki Sawai and Hiroaki Shibahara

Although the ovary has a large store of germ cells, most of them do not reach mature stages. If a culture system could be developed from early growing follicles to mature oocytes, it would be useful for biological research as well as for reproductive medicine. This study was conducted to establish a multistep culture system from isolated early growing follicles to mature oocytes using a mouse model. Early growing follicles with diameters of 60–95 μm corresponding to primary and early secondary follicles were isolated from 6-day-old mice and classified into three groups by diameter. These follicles contained oocytes with diameters of ∼45 μm and one or a few layered granulosa cells on the basal lamina. Embedding in collagen gel was followed by first-step culture. After 9-day culture, the growing follicles were transferred onto collagen-coated membrane in the second step. At day 17 of the culture series, the oocyte–granulosa cell complexes were subjected to in vitro maturation. Around 90% of the oocytes in follicles surviving at day 17 resumed second meiosis (metaphase II oocytes: 49.0–58.7%), regardless of the size when the follicle culture started. To assess developmental competence to live birth, the eggs were used for IVF and implantation in pseudopregnant mice. We successfully obtained two live offspring that produced next generations after puberty. We thus conclude that the culture system reported here was able to induce the growth of small follicles and the resultant mature oocytes were able to develop into normal mice.

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Risako Oda-Sakurai, Hiroshi Yoshitake, Yoshiki Miura, Saiko Kazuno, Takashi Ueno, Akiko Hasegawa, Kenji Yamatoya, Kenji Takamori, Atsuo Itakura, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Satoru Takeda and Yoshihiko Araki

Ts4, an autosperm-monoclonal antibody (mAb), reacts with a specific oligosaccharide (OS) of glycoproteins containing bisecting N-acetylglucosamine residues. Ts4 reactivity was observed against epididymal spermatozoa, testicular germ cells, and the early embryo, but not against major organs in adult mice. In mature testis, Ts4 exhibits immunoreactivity with a germ cell-specific glycoprotein, TEX101, whereas the mAb immunoreacts with alpha-N-acetylglucosaminidase in the acrosomal region of cauda epididymal spermatozoa. Thus, Ts4 seems to react against different molecules throughout spermiogenesis via binding to its OS epitope. Since the Ts4-epitope OS is observed only in reproduction-related regions, the Ts4-reactive OS may play a role in the reproductive process. The aim of this study is to investigate the characteristics of the Ts4-reactive molecule(s) during testicular development. Ts4 reactivity was observed in testes from the prenatal period; however, its distribution changed according to the stage of maturation and was identical to that of the adult testes after 29-day-postpartum (dpp). Ts4 immunoreactivity was detected against a protein with 63 kDa in testis from 1 to 29 dpp. In contrast, Ts4 showed reactivity against some other glycoproteins after 29 dpp, including TEX101 at the 5-week-old stage and onward. To identify the Ts4-reactive 63 kDa molecule, we identified NUP62 as the target of Ts4 in 22 dpp testis using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry analysis. Because NUP62 has been known to play active roles in a variety of cellular processes including mitosis and cell migration, the bisecting GlcNAc recognized by Ts4 on NUP62 may play a role in regulating the early development of germ cells in male gonadal organs.