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C. H. Yang and P. N. Srivastava

Summary.

High concentrations of α-chlorohydrin were found to inhibit hyaluronidase, β-glucuronidase, and aryl sulphatases in bull and rabbit spermatozoa, but not acrosin and neuraminidase. Preincubation of the enzyme and α-chlorohydrin was essential to achieve the maximum inhibition which was irreversible.

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F. Du, J. R. Giles, R. H. Foote, K. H. Graves, X. Yang and R. W. Moreadith

Rabbit embryonic stem-like cells, characterized by embryoid body formation and differentiation into cell types representative of all three germ layers, were studied for their ability to promote early embryonic development after nuclear transfer. After culture of the reconstructed embryos, 23% (n = 35) developed successfully into morulae or blastocysts, compared with 34% (n = 62) for cloned embryos derived from nuclear transfer with embryonic blastomeres. The cloned embryos from the embryonic stem-like cells appeared normal, with an average of 26% inner cell mass cells, similar to that of control non-manipulated embryos (25%) or cloned embryos from blastomeres (25%). Thus, nuclear transfer of rabbit embryonic stem-like cells leads to early embryonic development that is indistinguishable from blastomere fusion. These results have implications for the development of gene targeting in a species (rabbit) that may be a more suitable model for studying certain human diseases. In addition, this technique may be applicable to other species from which putative embryonic stem cells have been derived, particularly agriculturally important animals.

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ZP Huang, H Ni, ZM Yang, J Wang, JK Tso and QX Shen

Establishment of an active dialogue between the maternal endometrium and the implanting blastocyst is essential for successful implantation. The aim of this study was to identify genes that are explicitly expressed at implantation sites of the mouse uterus by subtractive hybridization. One expressed sequence tag of the genes identified showed 92% identity to the regulator of G-protein signalling protein 2 (RGS2). The full cDNA sequence of this gene was amplified by PCR and subsequently registered in GenBank. The sequence of its open reading frame encoding 211 amino acids was the same as that of mouse RGS2, with the exception of four amino acids. Northern blot analysis showed that the expression of this gene was much higher at implantation sites than at inter-implantation sites on days 5-8 of pregnancy. In situ hybridization localized this mRNA predominantly to the stromal cells at the implantation sites. These results indicate that RGS2 has a role during implantation, possibly by regulating the intracellular Ca(2+) mobilization and T-cell proliferation at the maternal-fetal interface.

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T. G. Cooper, C. H. Yeung, W. Lui and C. Z. Yang

Summary. A technique for perfusing the lumen of rat epididymal tubules maintained in vitro showed that [3H]inulin was largely excluded from the lumen of unravelled tubules from the cauda and tubules from the corpus if the connective tissue capsule was removed. The preparation transported [3H]inositol from the bath fluid for 3 h against a concentration gradient in both regions with activity rising (16–29% of bath fluid values) in the cauda and reaching a plateau (18%) in the corpus epididymidis. HPLC showed that radioactivity was solely associated with inositol and its movement to the lumen was reduced by raising inositol in the bath fluid from 50 μm (plasma levels) to 10 mm, but not affected by reducing the glucose concentration in the bath fluid or introducing physiological concentrations of inositol (30 mm) into the lumen. Secretion into the caudal lumen of unlabelled inositol measured by g.l.c. was maintained for 3 h at concentrations (300 μm) greater than those in the bath fluid and was not reduced when glucose or inositol were removed from the bath. In contrast, glucose was only detectable in the lumen when it was present in the bathing medium, reaching 1% of this concentration. Radioactivity appeared in the epididymal lumen reaching a plateau (19% of bath fluid values) in the corpus and cauda when [3H]glucose was added to the bath fluid, but no radiolabelled inositol was found in the lumen. We conclude that epididymal tissue is a major source of secreted inositol.

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D J Kwon, C K Park, B K Yang and H T Cheong

We attempted to control the nuclear remodelling of somatic cell nuclear transfer embryos (NTs) and examined their subsequent development and DNA methylation patterns in pigs. Porcine foetal fibroblasts were fused to enucleated oocytes treated with either 5 mM caffeine for 2.5 h or 0.5 mM vanadate for 0.5 h. After activation, NTs were cultured in vitro for 6 days to examine their development. The nuclear remodelling type of the reconstituted embryos was evaluated 1 h after fusion. Methylated DNA of in vitro-fertilised (IVF) embryos and NTs at various developmental stages and of donor cells was detected using a 5-methylcytosine (5-MeC) antibody. Caffeine-treated NTs induced premature chromosome condensation at a high rate (P<0.05), whereas most vanadate-treated NTs formed a pronucleus-like structure. Although cleavage rates to the two-cell stage did not differ among groups, delayed cleavage was observed in the vanadate-treated group. The blastocyst formation rate was significantly reduced by vanadate treatment compared with caffeine-treated and non-treated (control) NT groups (P<0.05). The apoptotic cell index of NT blastocysts was lower in the caffeine-treated group than in other groups (P<0.05). The methylation patterns were similar among NTs, but more hypermethylated DNA was observed at the four-cell stage of control and vanadate-treated NTs when compared with that in IVF embryos (P<0.05). Thus, the nuclear remodelling type controlled by caffeine or vanadate treatment can affect in vitro development and the methylation status of NTs in relation to nuclear reprogramming.

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P. N. SRIVASTAVA, J. F. MUNNELL, C. H. YANG and C. W. FOLEY

Summary.

A method involving the treatment of ram spermatozoa with MgCl2 followed by Hyamine 2389 and Triton X-100 is described, which gave selective removal of the acrosomal membranes and acrosomal enzymes. The effect on the individual membranes of ram spermatozoa was evaluated by electron microscopy. Treatment with MgCl2 removed or altered the integrity of the plasma and outer acrosomal membranes, allowing the release of material from the acrosome. The inner acrosomal membrane and the electron-dense material of the equatorial segment were frequently unaffected by this treatment. Subsequent treatment of these spermatozoa with Hyamine and Triton removed the inner acrosomal membrane and the electron-dense material from the equatorial segment. The MgCl2 extract contained acrosomal proteinases and hyaluronidase. The detergent extract contained sperm neuraminidase.

The specific activities and yields of the enzymes obtained in the MgCl2 step were much higher than those of the enzymes obtained by the detergent treatment. Slight alterations in the conditions of the treatment had different effects on the acrosomal membranes in that one or more of the membranes were removed or altered in varying proportions resulting in the release of one or more enzymes. Only the plasma membrane and the acrosome appeared to be affected by these treatments as selected mitochondrial enzymes were not detectable in the extracts.

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Xiaoqing Yang, Meivita Devianti, Yuan H Yang, Yih Rue Ong, Ker Sin Tan, Shanti Gurung, Jean L Tan, Dandan Zhu, Rebecca Lim, Caroline E Gargett and James A Deane

Perivascular mesenchymal stem/stromal cells can be isolated from the human endometrium using the surface marker SUSD2 and are being investigated for use in tissue repair. Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from other tissues modulate T cell responses via mechanisms including interleukin-10, prostaglandin E2, TGF-β1 and regulatory T cells. Animal studies demonstrate that endometrial mesenchymal stem/stromal cells can also modify immune responses to implanted mesh, but the mechanism/s they employ have not been explored. We examined the immunomodulatory properties of human endometrial mesenchymal stem/stromal cells on lymphocyte proliferation using mouse splenocyte cultures. Endometrial mesenchymal stem/stromal cells inhibited mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation in vitro in a dose-dependent manner. Inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation was not affected by blocking the mouse interleukin-10 receptor or inhibiting prostaglandin production. Endometrial mesenchymal stem/stromal cells continued to restrain lymphocyte proliferation in the presence of an inhibitor of TGF-β receptors, despite a reduction in regulatory T cells. Thus, the in vitro inhibition of mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation by endometrial mesenchymal stem/stromal cells occurs by a mechanism distinct from the interleukin-10, prostaglandin E2, TGF-β1 and regulatory T cell-mediated mechanisms employed by MSC from other tissues. eMSCs were shown to produce interleukin-17A and Dickkopf-1 which may contribute to their immunomodulatory properties. In contrast to MSC from other sources, systemic administration of endometrial mesenchymal stem/stromal cells did not inhibit swelling in a T cell-mediated model of skin inflammation. We conclude that, while endometrial mesenchymal stem/stromal cells can modify immune responses, their immunomodulatory repertoire may not be sufficient to restrain some T cell-mediated inflammatory events.

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Y Du, C S Pribenszky, M Molnár, X Zhang, H Yang, M Kuwayama, A M Pedersen, K Villemoes, L Bolund and G Vajta

The purpose of the present study was to improve cryotolerance using high hydrostatic pressure (HHP) pretreatment of porcine in vitro matured (IVM) oocytes, to facilitate their further developmental competence after parthenogenetic activation. A total of 1668 porcine IVM oocytes were used in our present study. The pressure tolerance and optimal duration of recovery after HHP treatment were determined. Oocytes were treated with either 20 or 40 MPa (200 and 400 times greater than atmospheric pressure) for 60 min, with an interval of 10, 70, and 130 min between pressure treatment and subsequent vitrification under each pressure parameter. Oocytes from all vitrification groups had much lower developmental competence than fresh oocytes (P<0.01) measured as cleavage and blastocyst rates. However, significantly higher blastocyst rates (P<0.01) were obtained in the groups of 20 MPa pressure, with either 70 (11.4±2.4%) or 130 (13.1±3.2%) min recovery, when compared with the vitrification control group without HHP treatment where no blastocysts were obtained. The influence of temperature at HHP treatment on further embryo development was also investigated. Treatments of 20 MPa with 70 min recovery were performed at 37 °C or 25 °C. Oocytes pressurized at 37 °C had a significantly higher blastocyst (14.1±1.4%) rate than those treated at 25 °C (5.3±1.1%; P<0.01). Our results demonstrate that HHP pretreatment could considerably improve the developmental competence of vitrified pig in vitro matured (IVM) oocytes. The HHP pretreatment will be tested as a means to improve survival and developmental competence at different developmental stages in different species including humans.

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F Guo, B Yang, Z H Ju, X G Wang, C Qi, Y Zhang, C F Wang, H D Liu, M Y Feng, Y Chen, Y X Xu, J F Zhong and J M Huang

The sperm flagella 2 (SPEF2) gene is essential for development of normal sperm tail and male fertility. In this study, we characterized first the splice variants, promoter and its methylation, and functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of the SPEF2 gene in newborn and adult Holstein bulls. Four splice variants were identified in the testes, epididymis, sperm, heart, spleen, lungs, kidneys, and liver tissues through RT-PCR, clone sequencing, and western blot analysis. Immunohistochemistry revealed that the SPEF2 was specifically expressed in the primary spermatocytes, elongated spermatids, and round spermatids in the testes and epididymis. SPEF2-SV1 was differentially expressed in the sperms of high-performance and low-performance adult bulls; SPEF2-SV2 presents the highest expression in testis and epididymis; SPEF2-SV3 was only detected in testis and epididymis. An SNP (c.2851G>T) in exon 20 of SPEF2, located within a putative exonic splice enhancer, potentially produced SPEF2-SV3 and was involved in semen deformity rate and post-thaw cryopreserved sperm motility. The luciferase reporter and bisulfite sequencing analysis suggested that the methylation pattern of the core promoter did not significantly differ between the full-sib bulls that presented hypomethylation in the ejaculated semen and testis. This finding indicates that sperm quality is unrelated to SPEF2 methylation pattern. Our data suggest that alternative splicing, rather than methylation, is involved in the regulation of SPEF2 expression in the testes and sperm and is one of the determinants of sperm motility during bull spermatogenesis. The exonic SNP (c.2851G>T) produces aberrant splice variants, which can be used as a candidate marker for semen traits selection breeding of Holstein bulls.