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Seok Hee Lee, Hyun Ju Oh, Min Jung Kim, and Byeong Chun Lee

Oviduct cells produce a favorable environment for the development of gametes by generating multiple growth factors. Particularly, in canine species, immature oocytes undergo serial maturation processes in the oviduct, while the other mammals already possess matured oocytes in ovulatory follicles. However, little is known about the potential effect exhibited by the components released from canine oviduct cells (OCs) for modulating the biological function of oocytes. Recently, exosomes are regarded as promising extracellular vesicles because they represent considerable data for molecular cargo. Therefore, we first investigated the effect of canine oviductal exosomes (OC-Exo) on oocyte development via EGFR/MAPK pathway. Our results showed that OC-Exo labeled with PHK67 are successfully incorporated with cumulus cells and oocytes during IVM. Also, OC-Exo markedly increased the proportion of cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) exhibiting cumulus expansion as well as cumulus cell proliferation and maturation rate of oocytes (P < 0.05). Furthermore, gene expression patterns related with EGFR/MAPK pathway including EGFR, PKA, TACE/ADAM17, MAPK1/3, MAPK14, PTGS2, TNFAIP6, GDF9, and BMP15 were positively modified in COCs cultured with OC-Exo (P < 0.05). In addition, OC-Exo significantly up-regulated the protein expression levels of p-EGFR, p-MAPK1/3, GDF9 and BMP15 in COCs (P < 0.05). Consequently, the current study provides a model for understanding the roles of OC-Exo as bioactive molecules for canine oocyte maturation via EGFR/MAPK pathway, which would open a new avenue for the application of exosomes to improve assisted reproductive technology in mammals, including humans.

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Purevjargal Naidansuren, Cha-Won Park, Sang-Hwan Kim, Tseeleema Nanjidsuren, Jong-Ju Park, Seong-Jo Yun, Bo-Woong Sim, Seongsoo Hwang, Myung-Hwa Kang, Buom-Yong Ryu, Sue-Yun Hwang, Jong-Taek Yoon, Keitaro Yamanouchi, and Kwan-Sik Min

The enzyme 20α-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (20α-HSD) catalyzes the conversion of progesterone to its inactive form, 20α-hydroxyprogesterone. This enzyme plays a critical role in the regulation of luteal function in female mammals. In this study, we conducted the characterization and functional analyses of bovine 20α-HSD from placental and ovarian tissues. The nucleotide sequence of bovine 20α-HSD showed significant homology to that of goats (96%), humans (84%), rabbits (83%), and mice (81%). The mRNA levels increased gradually throughout the estrous cycle, the highest being in the corpus luteum (CL) 1 stage. Northern blot analysis revealed a 1.2 kb mRNA in the bovine placental and ovarian tissues. An antibody specific to bovine 20α-HSD was generated in a rabbit immunized with the purified, recombinant protein. Recombinant 20α-HSD protein produced in mammalian cells had a molecular weight of ∼37 kDa. Bacterially expressed bovine 20α-HSD protein showed enzymatic activity. The expression pattern of the 20α-HSD protein in the pre-parturition placenta and the CL1 stage of the estrous cycle was similar to the level of 20α-HSD mRNA expression. Immunohistochemical analysis also revealed that bovine 20α-HSD protein was intensively localized in the large luteal cells during the late estrous cycle.

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Mun-Hyeong Lee, Pil-Soo Jeong, Bo-Woong Sim, Hyo-Gu Kang, Min Ju Kim, Sanghoon Lee, Seung-Bin Yoon, Philyong Kang, Young-Ho Park, Ji-Su Kim, Bong-Seok Song, Deog-Bon Koo, and Sun-Uk Kim

In the mammalian female reproductive tract, physiological oxygen tension is lower than that of the atmosphere. Therefore, to mimic in vivo conditions during in vitro culture (IVC) of mammalian early embryos, 5% oxygen has been extensively used instead of 20%. However, the potential effect of hypoxia on the yield of early embryos with high developmental competence remains unknown or controversial, especially in pigs. In the present study, we examined the effects of low oxygen tension under different oxygen tension levels on early developmental competence of parthenogenetically activated (PA) and in vitro-fertilized (IVF) porcine embryos. Unlike the 5% and 20% oxygen groups, exposure of PA embryos to 1% oxygen tension, especially in early-phase IVC (0–2 days), greatly decreased several developmental competence parameters including blastocyst formation rate, blastocyst size, total cell number, inner cell mass (ICM) to trophectoderm (TE) ratio, and cellular survival rate. In contrast, 1% oxygen tension did not affect developmental parameters during the middle (2–4 days) and late phases (4–6 days) of IVC. Interestingly, induction of autophagy by rapamycin treatment markedly restored the developmental parameters of PA and IVF embryos cultured with 1% oxygen tension during early-phase IVC, to meet the levels of the other groups. Together, these results suggest that the early development of porcine embryos depends on crosstalk between oxygen tension and autophagy. Future studies of this relationship should explore the developmental events governing early embryonic development to produce embryos with high developmental competence in vitro.