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Jin-Young Lee, Jiyeon Ham, Whasun Lim and Gwonhwa Song

Apomorphine is a derivative of morphine that is used for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease because of its effects on the hypothalamus. Therapeutic effects of apomorphine have also been reported for various neurological diseases and cancers. However, the molecular mechanisms of the antitumor effects of apomorphine are not clear, especially with respect to choriocarcinoma. This is the first study to elucidate the anticancer effects of apomorphine on choriocarcinoma. We found that apomorphine suppressed the viability, proliferation, ATP production, and spheroid formation of JEG3 and JAR choriocarcinoma cells. Moreover, apomorphine activated the intrinsic apoptosis pathway by activating caspases and inhibited the production of anti-apoptotic proteins in choriocarcinoma cells. Further, apomorphine caused depolarization of mitochondria, calcium overload, energy deprivation, and endoplasmic reticulum stress in JEG3 and JAR cells. We confirmed synergistic effects of apomorphine with paclitaxel, a traditional chemotherapeutic agent, and propose that apomorphine could be a potential therapeutic agent in choriocarcinoma and an important candidate for drug repositioning that could help overcome resistance to conventional chemotherapy.

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Jin-Young Lee, Hahyun Park, Whasun Lim and Gwonhwa Song

α,β-Thujone is a natural terpenoid found in many medicinal herbs, such as Artemisia absinthium (wormwood), that exhibits antioxidant, anti-diabetic, and anti-tumorigenic effects. α,β-Thujone has numerous functions; it serves as a food ingredient, cosmetic additive, and medicinal remedy. Although the therapeutic properties of α,β-thujone were previously revealed, a comprehensive description of the mechanisms of its anti-cancer potential in choriocarcinoma is yet to be provided. To our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate that α,β-thujone attenuates JEG3 and JAR choriocarcinoma cells through a caspase-dependent intrinsic apoptotic pathway. Moreover, α,β-thujone was demonstrated to induce a global mitochondrial defect and ER stress in choriocarcinoma by causing mitochondrial depolarization, calcium overload, and metabolic alterations, thereby leading to energy deprivation, which eventually contributes to the increase in apoptosis of choriocarcinoma cells. Herein, we also revealed the synergistic anti-cancer activity of α,β-thujone via its sensitization effect on paclitaxel in choriocarcinoma cells. Altogether, our findings suggest that α,β-thujone is a novel, natural pharmacological compound that can be used to treat human placental choriocarcinoma.

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Jin Gyoung Jung, Young Mok Lee, Jin Nam Kim, Tae Min Kim, Ji Hye Shin, Tae Hyun Kim, Jeong Mook Lim and Jae Yong Han

We recently developed bimodal germline chimera production approaches by transfer of primordial germ cells (PGCs) or embryonic germ cells (EGCs) into embryos and by transplantation of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) or germline stem cells (GSCs) into adult testes. This study was undertaken to investigate the reversible developmental unipotency of chicken germ cells using our established germline chimera production systems. First, we transferred freshly isolated SSCs from adult testis or in vitro cultured GSCs into stage X and stage 14–16 embryos, and we found that these transferred SSCs/GSCs could migrate to the recipient embryonic gonads. Of the 527 embryos that received SSCs or GSCs, 135 yielded hatchlings. Of 17 sexually mature males (35.3%), six were confirmed as germline chimeras through testcross analysis resulting in an average germline transmission efficiency of 1.3%. Second, PGCs/EGCs, germ cells isolated from embryonic gonads were transplanted into adult testes. The EGC transplantation induced germline transmission, whereas the PGC transplantation did not. The germline transmission efficiency was 12.5 fold higher (16.3 vs 1.3%) in EGC transplantation into testis (EGCs to adult testis) than that in SSC/GSC transfer into embryos (testicular germ cells to embryo stage). In conclusion, chicken germ cells from different developmental stages can (de)differentiate into gametes even after the germ cell developmental clock is set back or ahead. Use of germ cell reversible unipotency might improve the efficiency of germ cell-mediated germline transmission.

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Hae-Jun Yang, Sanghoon Lee, Bo-Woong Sim, Pil-Soo Jeong, Seon-A Choi, Young-Ho Park, Bong-Seok Song, Seung-Bin Yoon, Philyong Kang, Kang-Jin Jeong, Young-Hyun Kim, Jae-Won Huh, Sang-Rae Lee, Deog-Bon Koo, Young-Kug Choo, Ji-Su Kim and Sun-Uk Kim

The developmental competence of in vitro-matured oocytes is still lower than that of the in vivo-matured oocytes due to precocious meiotic resumption and inappropriate cytoplasmic maturation. Although numerous efforts have been attempted to accomplish better in vitro maturation (IVM) condition, only limited progress has been achieved. Thus, a current study was conducted to examine the effects of 6-diazo-5-oxo-l-norleucine (DON, an inhibitor of hyaluronan synthesis) during the first half period of IVM on nuclear/cytoplasmic maturation of porcine oocytes and subsequent embryonic development. Based on the observation of the nucleus pattern, metaphase II (MII) oocyte production rate in 1 µM DON group was significantly higher than other groups at 44 h of IVM. The 1 µM of DON was suggested to be optimal for porcine IVM and was therefore used for further investigation. Meiotic arrest effect of DON was maximal at 6 h of IVM, which was supported by the maintenance of significantly higher intra-oocyte cAMP level. In addition, increased pERK1/2 levels and clear rearrangement of cortical granules in membrane of MII oocytes matured with DON provided the evidence for balanced meiosis progression between nuclear and cytoplasmic maturation. Subsequently, DON significantly improved blastocyst formation rate, total cell numbers, and cellular survival in blastocysts after parthenogenetic activation, in vitro fertilization, and somatic cell nuclear transfer. Altogether, our results showed for the first time that 1 µM DON can be used to increase the yield of developmentally competent MII oocytes by synchronizing nuclear/cytoplasmic maturation, and it subsequently improves embryo developmental competence.