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Yufei Wang, Haoya Chang, Qifu He, Yaxing Xue, Kang Zhang, Jian Kang, Ying Wang, Zhiming Xu, Yong Zhang, and Fusheng Quan

Oocyte vitrification has significantly improved the survival rate and become the mainstream method for cryopreserving oocytes. Previous studies have demonstrated that the ultrastructure, mitochondrial function, DNA methylation, and histone modification exhibit an irreversible effect after oocyte vitrification. However, little is known about the effects of oocyte vitrification on glucose transport and metabolism. This study aims to determine whether mouse oocyte vitrification causes abnormal glucose metabolism and identify a strategy to correct abnormal glucose metabolism. Furthermore, this study further investigates the effects of oocyte vitrification on glucose uptake, and glucose metabolism, and energy levels. The results indicated that vitrification significantly reduced the glucose transport activity, NADPH, glutathione, and ATP levels, and increased reactive oxygen species levels in oocytes (P  < 0.01). Vitrification also reduced the expression of glucose transporter isoform 1 (GLUT1) (P  < 0.01). Adding a GLUT1 inhibitor reduced the glucose uptake capacity of oocytes. Furthermore, the inclusion of vitamin C into thawing and culture solutions restored abnormal glucose transportation and metabolism and improved the survival, two-cell embryo, and blastocyst rates of the vitrified groups via parthenogenesis (P  < 0.05). Overall, this method may improve the quality and efficiency of oocyte vitrification.

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Jin Yu Zhang, Huan Sheng Dong, Reza K Oqani, Tao Lin, Jung Won Kang, and Dong Il Jin

Cell-to-cell contact mediated by cell adhesion is fundamental to the compaction process that ensures blastocyst quality during embryonic development. In this study, we first showed that Rho-associated coiled-coil protein kinases (ROCK1 and ROCK2) were expressed both in porcine oocytes and IVF preimplantation embryos, playing different roles in oocytes maturation and embryo development. The amount of mRNA encoding ROCK1 and the protein concentration clearly increased between the eight-cell and morula stages, but decreased significantly when blastocysts were formed. Conversely, ROCK2 was more abundant in the blastocyst compared with other embryonic stages. Moreover, immunostaining showed that ROCK1 protein distribution changed as the embryo progressed through cleavage and compaction to the morula stage. Initially, the protein was predominantly associated with the plasma membrane but later became cytoplasmic. By contrast, ROCK2 protein was localized in both the cytoplasm and the spindle rotation region during oocyte meiosis, but in the cytoplasm and nucleus as the embryo developed. In addition, ROCK2 was present in the trophectoderm cells of the blastocyst. Treatment with 15 μM Y27632, a specific inhibitor of ROCKs, completely blocked further development of early four-cell stage embryos. Moreover, we did not detect the expression of ROCK1 but did detect ROCK2 expression in blastocysts. Moreover, lysophosphatidic acid an activator of ROCKs significantly improved the rates of blastocyst formation. These data demonstrate that ROCKs are required for embryo development to the blastocyst stage. Together, our results indicate that ROCK1 and ROCK2 may exert different biological functions during the regulation of compaction and in ensuring development of porcine preimplantation embryos to the blastocyst stage.

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Kang Shan, Ma Xiao-Wei, Wang Na, Zhang Xiu-Feng, Wen Deng-Gui, Guo Wei, Zhang Zheng-Mao, and Li Yan

Endometriosis, one of the most frequent diseases in gynecology, is a benign but invasive and metastatic disease. The altered expression of E-cadherin may play an important role in developing endometriosis. In this paper, we discuss the association of three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the E-cadherin gene and risk of endometriosis. We examined the genotype frequency of three polymorphisms in 152 endometriosis patients and 189 control women. There was a significant difference in the frequency of the E-cadherin 3′-UTR C → T genotypes between endometriosis and controls (P = 0.01). The frequency of the C allele in patients (71.1%) was significantly higher than in the controls (63.8%; P = 0.04). When compared with the T/T + T/C genotypes, the C/C genotype had a significantly increased susceptibility to endometriosis, with an adjusted odds ratio of 1.79 (95% confidence interval = 1.17–2.76). No significant difference was found between endometriosis and control women on two polymorphisms (−160 C → A, −347 G → GA) at the gene promoter region of E-cadherin. The −160 C → A and −347 G → GA polymorphisms displayed linkage disequilibrium (D′ = 0.999). The −160 A/−347 GA haplotype was only detected in endometriosis patients (2%). These data show a relation between the E-cadherin 3′-UTR C → T polymorphism, the −160 A/−347 GA haplotype of two promoter polymorphisms and risk of endometriosis, suggesting a potential role in endometriosis development, at least in North Chinese women.

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Hongzheng Sun, Jianmin Su, Teng Wu, Fengyu Wang, Jian Kang, Jingcheng Zhang, Xupeng Xing, Yuyao Cheng, and Yong Zhang

Coactivator-associated arginine methyltransferase 1 (CARM1) is a type I arginine methyltransferase that methylates the arginine residues of histone and nonhistone. Carm1 regulates various cellular processes, including transcriptional regulation, mRNA processing, cellular proliferation, and differentiation. Blastomeres with high Carm1 expression levels show cleavage tendency to inner cell mass (ICM) in mouse embryos. However, details about the factors for CARM1 distribution in mouse early embryos and the role of Carm1 in blastocyst development remain unclear. Here, the endonuclear distribution of CARM1 protein was heterogeneous between blastomeres from the late four-cell stage to the blastocyst stage. The heterogeneity of CARM1 distribution in blastomeres at the late four-cell stage was randomly obtained from two-cell stage embryos. From the four-cell stage to morula, CARM1 in individual blastomere remained heterogeneous. In the blastocyst stage, CARM1 protein level in ICM was much higher than that in trophoblast. We found that microRNA (miRNA) miR-181a is an important regulator for Carm1 distribution at the late four-cell stage. The ratio of heterogeneous embryos was reduced in all the embryos when miR-181a was inhibited. CARM1 inhibition reduced the level of symmetrical histone H3 arginine-26 dimethylation and impaired blastocyst development. Silencing Carm1 reduced cell number and increased cell apoptosis at the blastocyst stage. These results show a CARM1 heterogeneous distribution from the four-cell embryos to the blastocysts. miR-181a regulates the control of CARM1 heterogeneous distribution in the four-cell-stage embryos, and CARM1 is an important protein in regulating blastocyst development.