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Dong-Kyung Lee, Kwang-Hwan Choi, Jae Yeon Hwang, Jong-Nam Oh, Seung-Hun Kim and Chang-Kyu Lee

Lipid droplets (LD) provide a source of energy, and their importance during embryogenesis has been increasingly recognized. In particular, pig embryos have larger amounts of intercellular lipid bilayers than other mammalian species, suggesting that porcine embryos are more dependent on lipid metabolic pathways. The objective of the present study was to detect the effect of stearoyl-coenzyme A desaturase 1 (SCD1) on LD formation and to associate these effects with the mRNA abundance of LD formation-related genes (SREBP, ARF1, COPG2, PLD1 and ERK2) in in vitro-produced porcine embryos. To determine the effect of SCD1 on LD formation and related genes, we examined the effects of SCD1 inhibition using CAY10566 (an SCD1 inhibitor, 50 μM) on parthenogenetic embryos. SCD1 inhibition downregulated the mRNA levels of LD formation-related genes and embryo development. Our results revealed that SCD1 functions in the regulation of LD formation via phospholipid formation and embryo development. In addition, we treated parthenogenetic embryos with oleic acid (100 μM), which led to a significant increase in the blastocyst formation rate, LD size and number compared to controls. Remarkably, the adverse effects of the SCD1 inhibitor could be counteracted by oleic acid. These data suggest that porcine embryos can use exogenous oleic acid as a metabolic energy source.

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Jae Yeon Hwang, Jong-Nam Oh, Dong-Kyung Lee, Kwang-Hwan Choi, Chi-Hun Park and Chang-Kyu Lee

OCT4 encoded by POU5F1 has a crucial role of maintaining pluripotency in embryonic stem cells during early embryonic development and several OCT4 variants have been identified in mouse and human studies. The objective of this study was to identify different variants of OCT4 and analyze their expression patterns in preimplantation porcine embryos and various tissues. In this study, we showed that POU5F1 transcribes its three variants, namely OCT4A, OCT4B, and OCT4B1. The OCT4B transcript consists of exons identical to the major form of the OCT4 variant, OCT4A, with a differential N-terminal domain-coding exon. The structure of OCT4B1 mRNA was the same as that of OCT4B mRNA, but harbored a cryptic exon. Based on these findings, the transcription levels were investigated and found that OCT4B and OCT4B1 made up ∼20% among the variants in the embryonic stage and this indicates that OCT4A mRNA is dominantly expressed during preimplantation embryo development. In addition, OCT4B mRNA was detected in all tissues examined, while OCT4A and OCT4B1 were detected only in testis but not in other tissues examined. OCT4B1 showed inversely correlated expression with SOX2 and NANOG expression. OCT4A protein was specifically localized to the nuclei, whereas OCT4B was mainly localized to the cytoplasm of the porcine embryos at the blastocyst stage. The findings of this study reveal that the porcine OCT4 gene can potentially encode three variants (OCT4A, OCT4B, and OCT4B1), and they are differentially expressed and would have roles dissimilar between each other in preimplantation embryos and various adult tissues.