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Chao Wei, Xia Li, Pengfei Zhang, Yu Zhang, Tong Liu, Shaoshuai Jiang, Fei Han, and Yunhai Zhang

Partially reprogrammed induced pluripotent stem cells (PiPSCs) have great potential for investigating reprogramming mechanisms and represent an alternative potential material for making genetically modified animals and regenerative medicine. To date, PiPSCs have scarcely been reported in detail when compared with mice and humans. In this study, we obtained PiPSCs from porcine adipose-derived stem cells (pADSCs) by ectopic expression of human transcription factors (OCT4, SOX2, c-MYC, and KLF4) in feeder-free condition. The morphology and proliferation activity of porcine PiPSCs (pPiPSCs) were similar to those of porcine fully reprogrammed iPSCs (pFiPSCs); furthermore, pPiPSCs expressed higher levels of the typical surface molecules (CD29) found in pADSCs. However, pPiPSCs were negative for key proteins (NANOG) connected with stemness and possessed lower differentiation ability in vivo and in vitro. When differentiation-inhibiting factors were withdrawn, pPiPSCs-derived cells (pPiPSC-DCs) showed similar features to pADSCs in many aspects, including proliferation, differentiation, and immunosuppression. When both types of cells were used to produce cloned embryos, we found that the blastocyst formation rate of 19DC (one of the pPiPSC-DC cell lines)-derived cloned embryos was obviously higher than that of others. The total cell number of 19DC-derived blastocysts was significantly higher than the 30DC (one pFiPSC-DC cell line)-derived blastocysts. In all, through limited differentiation ability, the proliferation activity of pPiPSCs is similar to that of pFiPSCs, and pPiPSCs can retain several of the features of pADSCs, which are beneficial to cell therapy. Furthermore, the differentiation of pPiPSCs is more favorable for producing high-quality reconstructed embryos.

Free Chinese abstract: A Chinese translation of this abstract is freely available at

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Kun Li, Yue Liu, Xiaoyu Xia, Li Wang, Meige Lu, Yanqin Hu, and Chen Xu

Bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein (BPI) is a 455-residue (∼55 kDa) protein found mainly in the primary (azurophilic) granules of human neutrophils. BPI is an endogenous antibiotic protein that belongs to the family of mammalian lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-binding and lipid transport proteins. Its major function is to kill Gram-negative bacteria, thereby protecting the host from infection. In addition, BPI can inhibit angiogenesis, suppress LPS-mediated platelet activation, increase DNA synthesis, and activate ERK/Akt signaling. In this study, we found that Bpi was expressed in the testis and epididymis but not in the seminal vesicles, prostate, and solidification glands. BPI expression in the epididymis increased upon upregulation of testosterone, caused by injection of GNRH. In orchidectomized mice, BPI expression was significantly reduced, but its expression was restored to 30% of control levels in orchidectomized mice that received supplementary testosterone. The number of sperm fused per egg significantly decreased after incubation with anti-BPI antiserum. These results suggest that BPI may take part in the process of sperm–oocyte fusion and play a unique and significant role in reproduction.

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Cai-Xia Yang, Zichuan Liu, Renaud Fleurot, Pierre Adenot, Véronique Duranthon, Xavier Vignon, Qi Zhou, Jean-Paul Renard, and Nathalie Beaujean

To investigate the embryonic genome organization upon fertilization and somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), we tracked HP1β and CENP, two well-characterized protein markers of pericentric and centromeric compartments respectively, in four types of embryos produced by rabbit in vivo fertilization, rabbit parthenogenesis, rabbit-to-rabbit, and bovine-to-rabbit SCNT. In the interphase nuclei of rabbit cultured fibroblasts, centromeres and associated pericentric heterochromatin are usually isolated. Clustering into higher-order chromatin structures, such as the chromocenters seen in mouse and bovine somatic cells, could not be observed in rabbit fibroblasts. After fertilization, centromeres and associated pericentric heterochromatin are quite dispersed in rabbit embryos. The somatic-like organization is progressively established and completed only by the 8/16-cell stage, a stage that corresponds to major embryonic genome activation in this species. In SCNT embryos, pericentric heterochromatin distribution typical for rabbit and bovine somatic cells was incompletely reverted into the 1-cell embryonic form with remnants of heterochromatin clusters in 100% of bovine-to-rabbit embryos. Subsequently, the donor cell nuclear organization was rapidly re-established by the 4-cell stage. Remarkably, the incomplete remodeling of bovine-to-rabbit 1-cell embryos was associated with delayed transcriptional activation compared with rabbit-to-rabbit embryos. Together, the results confirm that pericentric heterochromatin spatio-temporal reorganization is an important step of embryonic genome reprogramming. It also appears that genome reorganization in SCNT embryos is mainly dependent on the nuclear characteristics of the donor cells, not on the recipient cytoplasm.

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Baoheng Gui, Zhongyuan Yao, Yanping Li, Donge Liu, Nenghui Liu, Yan Xia, Yanru Huang, Libin Mei, Ruiyu Ma, Sijia Lu, Desheng Liang, and Lingqian Wu

Balanced chromosomal rearrangements (CRs) are among the most common genetic abnormalities in humans. In the present study, we have investigated the degree of consistency between the chromosomal composition of the blastocyst inner cell mass (ICM) and trophectoderm (TE) in carriers with balanced CR, which has not been previously addressed. As a secondary aim, we have also evaluated the validity of cleavage-stage preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) based on fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) of blastocysts from CR carriers. Blastocyst ICM and TE were screened for chromosomal aneuploidy and imbalance of CR-associated chromosomes based on whole-genome copy number variation analysis by low-coverage next-generation sequencing (NGS) following single-cell whole-genome amplification by multiple annealing and looping-based amplification cycling. The NGS results were analyzed without knowledge of cleavage-stage FISH results. NGS results for blastocyst ICM and TE from CR carriers were 86.49% (32/37) consistent. Of the 1702 (37×46) chromosomes examined, 99.47% (1693/1702) showed consistency. However, only 40.0% (18/45) of all embryos had consistent results for chromosomes involved in CR, as determined by blastocyst NGS and cleavage-stage FISH. Of the 85 CR-affected chromosomes analyzed by FISH, 37.65% (32/85) were incongruous with NGS results, with 87.5% (28/32) showing imbalanced composition by FISH but balanced composition by NGS. These results indicate that chromosomal composition of blastocyst ICM and TE in balanced CR carriers is highly consistent, and that PGD based on cleavage-stage FISH is inaccurate; therefore, using blastocyst TE biopsies for NGS-based PGD is recommended for identifying chromosomal imbalance in embryos from balanced CR carriers.

Free access

Xuan-Tong Liu, Hui-Ting Sun, Zhong-Fang Zhang, Ru-Xia Shi, Li-Bing Liu, Jia-Jun Yu, Wen-Jie Zhou, Chun-Jie Gu, Shao-Liang Yang, Yu-Kai Liu, Hui-Li Yang, Feng-Xuan Xu, and Ming-Qing Li

It has been reported that the impaired cytotoxicity of natural killer (NK) cells and abnormal cytokines that are changed by the interaction between ectopic endometrial cells and immune cells is indispensable for the initiation and development of endometriosis (EMS). However, the mechanism of NK cells dysfunction in EMS remains largely unclear. Here, we found that NK cells in peritoneal fluid from women with EMS highly expressed indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO). Furthermore, IDO+NK cells possessed lower NKp46 and NKG2D but higher IL-10 than that of IDO-NK. Co-culture with endometrial stromal cells (nESCs) from healthy control or ectopic ESCs (eESCs) from women with EMS led to a significant increase in the IDO level in NK cells from peripheral blood, particularly eESCs, and an anti-TGF-β neutralizing antibody suppressed these effects in vitro. NK cells co-cultured with ESC more preferentially inhibited the viability of nESCs than eESCs did, and pretreating with 1-methyl-tryptophan (1-MT), an IDO inhibitor, reversed the inhibitory effect of NK cells on eESC viability. These data suggest that ESCs induce IDO+NK cells differentiation partly by TGF-β and that IDO further restricts the cytotoxicity of NK cells in response to eESCs, which provides a potential therapeutic strategy for EMS patients, particularly those with a high number of impaired cytotoxic IDO+NK cells.

Free access

Xia Wang, Jason E Swain, Mathieu Bollen, Xiao-Tie Liu, Dana A Ohl, and Gary D Smith

Reversible phosphorylation, involving protein kinases and phosphatases (PP), is important in regulating oocyte meiosis. Okadaic acid (OA) inhibition of PP1 and/or PP2A stimulates oocyte germinal vesicle breakdown (GVB). In oocytes, PP1 is localized in the cytoplasm and nucleus, yet endogenous regulation of oocyte PP1 has not been investigated. The objectives of the study were to identify intra-oocyte mechanisms regulating PP1 during acquisition of OA-sensitive meiotic competence and meiotic resumption. Immunohistochemical studies revealed that GVB-incompetent oocytes contained equivalent cytoplasmic and nuclear PP1. Upon development of OA-sensitive meiotic competence, PP1 displayed differential intracellular localization with significantly greater nuclear staining with distinct nucleolar rimming compared with cytoplasmic staining. Germinal vesicle-intact oocytes contained neither nuclear inhibitor of PP1, nor PP1 cytoplasmic inhibitor-1 transcripts or proteins. Reverse transcription-PCR with PP1 cytoplasmic inhibitor-2 (I2) primers and oocyte RNA amplified a predicted 330-bp product with the identical sequence to mouse liver I2. Oocytes contained a heat-stable PP1 inhibitor with biochemical properties of I2. Phosphorylation of PP1 at Thr320 by cyclin dependent kinase-1 (CDK1) causes PP1 inactivation. Germinal vesicle-intact oocytes did not contain phospho-Thr320-PP1. Upon GVB, PP1 became phosphorylated at Thr320 and this phosphorylation did not occur if GVB was blocked with the CDK1 inhibitor, roscovitine (ROSC). Inhibition of oocyte GVB with ROSC was reversible and coincided with PP1 phosphorylation at Thr320. Increased oocyte staining of nuclear PP1 compared with cytoplasmic staining at a chronological stage when oocytes gain meiotic competence, and phosphorylation and inhibition of PP1 by CDK1 at or around GVB appear to be important mechanisms in regulating oocyte PP1 activity and meiosis. In addition, these studies provide further support for PP1 being the OA-sensitive PP important in the regulation of the acquisition of meiotic competence, nuclear events during meiotic arrest, and GVB.

Free access

Cheng Jin, Yan Zhang, Zhi-Peng Wang, Xiu-Xia Wang, Tie-Cheng Sun, Xiao-Yu Li, Ji-Xin Tang, Jin-Mei Cheng, Jian Li, Su-Ren Chen, Shou-Long Deng, and Yi-Xun Liu

Spermatogenesis is crucial for male fertility and is therefore tightly controlled by a variety of epigenetic regulators. However, the function of enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) in spermatogenesis and the molecular mechanisms underlying its activity remain poorly defined. Here, we demonstrate that deleting EZH2 promoted spermatogonial differentiation and apoptosis. EZH2 is expressed in spermatogonia, spermatocytes and round and elongated spermatids from stage 9 to 11 but not in leptotene and zygotene spermatocytes. Knocking down Ezh2 in vitro using a lentivirus impaired self-renewal in spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), and the conditional knockout of Ezh2 in spermatogonial progenitors promoted precocious spermatogonial differentiation. EZH2 functions to balance self-renewal and differentiation in spermatogonia by suppressing NEUROG3 and KIT via a direct interaction that is independent of its histone methyltransferase activity. Moreover, deleting Ezh2 enhanced the activation of CASP3 in spermatids, resulting in reduced spermatozoa production. Collectively, these data demonstrate that EZH2 plays a nonclassical role in the regulation of spermatogonial differentiation and apoptosis in murine spermatogenesis.

Free access

Jia-Jun Yu, Hui-Ting Sun, Zhong-Fang Zhang, Ru-Xia Shi, Li-Bing Liu, Wen-Qing Shang, Chun-Yan Wei, Kai-Kai Chang, Jun Shao, Ming-Yan Wang, and Ming-Qing Li

Endometriosis (EMS) is associated with an abnormal immune response to endometrial cells, which can facilitate the implantation and proliferation of ectopic endometrial tissues. It has been reported that human endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) express interleukin (IL)15. The aim of our study was to elucidate whether or not IL15 regulates the cross talk between ESCs and natural killer (NK) cells in the endometriotic milieu and, if so, how this regulation occurs. The ESC behaviors in vitro were verified by Cell Counting Kit-8 (CCK-8), Annexin/PI, and Matrigel invasion assays, respectively. To imitate the local immune microenvironment, the co-culture system between ESCs and NK cells was constructed. The effect of IL15 on NK cells in the co-culture unit was investigated by flow cytometry (FCM). In this study, we found that ectopic endometrium from patients with EMS highly expressed IL15. Rapamycin, an autophagy inducer, decreased the level of IL15 receptors (i.e. IL15Rα and IL2Rβ). IL15 inhibits apoptosis and promotes the invasiveness, viability, and proliferation of ESCs. Meanwhile, a co-culture with ESCs led to a decrease in CD16 on NK cells. In the co-culture system, IL15 treatment downregulated the levels of Granzyme B and IFN-γ in CD16+NK cells, NKG2D in CD56dimCD16-NK cells, and NKP44 in CD56brightCD16-NK cells. On the one hand, these results indicated that IL15 derived from ESCs directly stimulates the growth and invasion of ESCs. On the other hand, IL15 may help the immune escape of ESCs by suppressing the cytotoxic activity of NK cells in the ectopic milieu, thereby facilitating the progression of EMS.

Free access

Qiao-Song Zheng, Xiao-Na Wang, Qing Wen, Yan Zhang, Su-Ren Chen, Jun Zhang, Xi-Xia Li, Ri-Na Sha, Zhao-Yuan Hu, Fei Gao, and Yi-Xun Liu

Spermatogenesis is a complex process involving the regulation of multiple cell types. As the only somatic cell type in the seminiferous tubules, Sertoli cells are essential for spermatogenesis throughout the spermatogenic cycle. The Wilms tumor gene, Wt1, is specifically expressed in the Sertoli cells of the mouse testes. In this study, we demonstrated that Wt1 is required for germ cell differentiation in the developing mouse testes. At 10 days post partum, Wt1-deficient testes exhibited clear meiotic arrest and undifferentiated spermatogonia accumulation in the seminiferous tubules. In addition, the expression of claudin11, a marker and indispensable component of Sertoli cell integrity, was impaired in Wt1 −/flox; Cre-ER TM testes. This observation was confirmed in in vitro testis cultures. However, the basal membrane of the seminiferous tubules in Wt1-deficient testes was not affected. Based on these findings, we propose that Sertoli cells' status is affected in Wt1-deficient mice, resulting in spermatogenesis failure.

Open access

Ning-Xin Qin, Yi-Ran Zhao, Wei-Hui Shi, Zhi-Yang Zhou, Ke-Xin Zou, Chuan-Jin Yu, Xia Liu, Ze-Han Dong, Yi-Ting Mao, Cheng-Liang Zhou, Jia-Le Yu, Xin-Mei Liu, Jian-Zhong Sheng, Guo-Lian Ding, Wen-Long Zhao, Yan-Ting Wu, and He-Feng Huang

The number of children born after assisted reproductive technology (ART) is accumulating rapidly, and the health problems of the children are extensively concerned. This study aims to evaluate whether ART procedures alter behaviours in male offspring. Mouse models were utilized to establish three groups of offspring conceived by natural conception (NC), in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer (IVF-ET), and frozen-thawed embryo transfer (IVF-FET), respectively. A battery of behaviour experiments for evaluating anxiety and depression levels, including the open field test (OFT), elevated plus maze (EPM) test, light/dark transition test (L/DTT), tail suspension test (TST), forced swimming test (FST), and sucrose preference test (SPT) was carried out. Aged (18 months old), but not young (3 months old), male offspring in the IVF-ET and IVF-FET groups, compared with those in the NC group, exhibited increased anxiety and depression-like behaviours. The protein expression levels of three neurotrophins in PFC or hippocampus in aged male offspring from the IVF-ET and IVF-FET groups reduced at different extent, in comparison to NC group. RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) was performed in the hippocampus of 18 months old offspring to further explore the gene expression profile changes in the three groups. KEGG analyses revealed the coexisted pathways, such as PI3K-Akt signalling pathway, which potentially reflected the similarity and divergence in anxiety and depression between the offspring conceived by IVF-ET and IVF-FET. Our research suggested the adverse effects of advanced age on the psychological health of children born after ART should be highlighted in the future.