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Mayel Chirinos, Marta Durand, María Elena González-González, Gabriela Hernández-Silva, Israel Maldonado-Rosas, Pablo López, and Fernando Larrea

Levonorgestrel (LNG), a synthetic 19 nor-testosterone derivative, is widely used for emergency contraception. It is well known that LNG prevents ovulation only when given prior to the surge of serum luteinizing hormone (LH) during the periovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle. This observation suggests that LNG, given its contraceptive efficacy, has additional effects other than those affecting ovulation. In this study, we have evaluated the effects on human sperm functionality of uterine flushings (UF) obtained from women at day LH + 1 of a control cycle (CTR-LH + 1) and after receiving LNG (LNG-LH + 1) two days before the surge of LH. Human sperm from normozoospermic donors were incubated with UF and protein tyrosine phosphorylation, sperm motility, acrosome reaction as well as zona pellucida (ZP) binding capacity were assessed. A significant decrease in total motility and tyrosine phosphorylation accompanied by an increase on spontaneous acrosome reaction was observed when sperm were incubated in the presence of LNG-LH + 1. None of these effects were mimicked by purified glycodelin A (GdA). Moreover, the addition of UF obtained during the periovulatory phase from LNG-treated women or the presence of purified GdA significantly decreased sperm-ZP binding. The data were compatible with changes affecting sperm capacitation, motility and interaction with the ZP. These results may offer evidence on additional mechanisms of action of LNG as an emergency contraceptive.

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Pablo J Ross, Neli P Ragina, Ramon M Rodriguez, Amy E Iager, Kannika Siripattarapravat, Nestor Lopez-Corrales, and Jose B Cibelli

Trimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27me3) is established by polycomb group genes and is associated with stable and heritable gene silencing. The aim of this study was to characterize the expression of polycomb genes and the dynamics of H3K27me3 during bovine oocyte maturation and preimplantation development. Oocytes and in vitro-produced embryos were collected at different stages of development. Polycomb gene expression was analyzed by real-time quantitative RT-PCR and immunofluorescence. Global H3K27me3 levels were determined by semiquantitative immunofluorescence. Transcripts for EZH2, EED, and SUZ12 were detected at all stages analyzed, with EZH2 levels being the highest of the three at early stages of development. By the time the embryo reached the blastocyst stage, the level of PcG gene mRNA levels significantly increased. Immunofluorescence staining indicated nuclear expression of EZH2 at all stages while nuclear localized EED and SUZ12 were only evident at the morula and blastocyst stages. Semiquantitative analysis of H3K27me3 levels showed that nuclear fluorescence intensity was the highest in immature oocytes, which steadily decreased after fertilization to reach a nadir at the eight-cell stage, and then increased at the blastocyst stage. These results suggest that the absence of polycomb repressive complex 2 proteins localized to the nucleus of early embryos could be responsible for the gradual decrease in H3K27me3 during early preimplantation development.