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Free access

Yan Cao, Ming Shen, Yi Jiang, Shao-chen Sun, and Honglin Liu

Oxidative stress-induced granulosa cell (GCs) injury is believed to be a common trigger for follicular atresia. Emerging evidence indicates that excessive autophagy occurs in mammalian cells with oxidative damage. N-acetyl-5-methoxytrypamine (melatonin) has been shown to prevent GCs from oxidative injury, although the exact mechanism remains to be elucidated. Here, we first demonstrated that the suppression of autophagy through the JNK/BCL-2/BECN1 signaling is engaged in melatonin-mediated GCs protection against oxidative damage. Melatonin inhibited the loss of GCs viability, formation of GFP-MAP1LC3B puncta, accumulation of MAP1LC3B-II blots, degradation of SQSTM1 and the expression of BECN1, which was correlated with impaired activation of JNK during oxidative stress. On the other hand, blocking of autophagy and/or JNK also reduced the level of H2O2-induced GCs death, but failed to further restore GCs viability in the presence of melatonin. Particularly, the suppression of autophagy provided no additional protective effects when GCs were pretreated with JNK inhibitor and/or melatonin. Importantly, we found that the enhanced interaction between BCL-2 and BECN1 might be a responsive mechanism for autophagy suppression via the melatonin/JNK pathway. Moreover, blocking the downstream antioxidant system of melatonin using specific inhibitors further confirmed a direct role of melatonin/JNK/autophagy axis in preserving GCs survival without scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS). Taken together, our findings uncover a novel function of melatonin in preventing GCs from oxidative damage by targeting JNK-mediated autophagy, which might contribute to develop therapeutic strategies for patients with ovulation failure-related disorders.

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Ru Zheng, Yue Li, Huiying Sun, Xiaoyin Lu, Bao-Fa Sun, Rui Wang, Lina Cui, Cheng Zhu, Hai-Yan Lin, and Hongmei Wang

The syncytiotrophoblast (STB) plays a key role in maintaining the function of the placenta during human pregnancy. However, the molecular network that orchestrates STB development remains elusive. The aim of this study was to obtain broad and deep insight into human STB formation via transcriptomics. We adopted RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq) to investigate genes and isoforms involved in forskolin (FSK)-induced fusion of BeWo cells. BeWo cells were treated with 50 μM FSK or dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) as a vehicle control for 24 and 48 h, and the mRNAs at 0, 24 and 48 h were sequenced. We detected 28,633 expressed genes and identified 1902 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) after FSK treatment for 24 and 48 h. Among the 1902 DEGs, 461 were increased and 395 were decreased at 24 h, whereas 879 were upregulated and 763 were downregulated at 48 h. When the 856 DEGs identified at 24 h were traced individually at 48 h, they separated into 6 dynamic patterns via a K-means algorithm, and most were enriched in down–even and up–even patterns. Moreover, the gene ontology (GO) terms syncytium formation, cell junction assembly, cell fate commitment, calcium ion transport, regulation of epithelial cell differentiation and cell morphogenesis involved in differentiation were clustered, and the MAPK pathway was most significantly regulated. Analyses of alternative splicing isoforms detected 123,200 isoforms, of which 1376 were differentially expressed. The present deep analysis of the RNA-Seq data of BeWo cell fusion provides important clues for understanding the mechanisms underlying human STB formation.

Free access

Xiaohui Cui, Yan Sun, Xiuge Wang, Chunhong Yang, Zhihua Ju, Qiang Jiang, Yan Zhang, Jinming Huang, Jifeng Zhong, Miao Yin, and Changfa Wang

The micromolar calcium-activated neutral protease gene (CAPN1) is a physiological candidate gene for sperm motility. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in regulating the expression of the CAPN1 gene in bulls remain unknown. In this study, we investigated the expression pattern of CAPN1 in testis, epididymis, and sperm at the RNA and protein levels by qRT-PCR, western blot, immunohistochemistry, and immunofluorescence assay. Results revealed that the expression of CAPN1 levels was higher in the sperm head compared with that in other tissues. Moreover, we identified a novel single-nucleotide polymorphism (g.-1256 A>C, ss 1917715340) in the noncanonical core promoter of the CAPN1 gene between base g.-1306 and g.-1012. Additionally, we observed greater sperm motility in bulls with the genotype CC than in those with the genotype AA (P<0.01), indicating that different genotypes were associated with the bovine semen trait. Furthermore, a higher fluorescence intensity of the C allele than that of the A allele at g. -1256 A>C was revealed by transient transfection in MLTC-1 cells and luciferase report assay. Finally, CAPN1 was highly expressed in the spermatozoa with the CC genotype compared with that with the AA genotype by qRT-PCR. This study is the first report on genetic variant g.-1256 A>C in the promoter region of CAPN1 gene association with the semen quality of Chinese Holstein bulls by influencing its expression. g.-1256 A>C can be a functional molecular marker in cattle breeding.

Open access

Jie Mei, Yuan Yan, Shi-Yuan Li, Wen-Jie Zhou, Qun Zhang, Ming-Qing Li, and Hai-Xiang Sun

Decidualization renders the endometrium transiently receptive to an implanting blastocyst although the underlying mechanisms remain incompletely understood. The aim of this study was to determine the role of chemokine CXCL16 and its receptor CXCR6 in the decidualization during pregnancy. Here, the expression of CXCL16 was investigated in endometrial tissues, decidua and placenta in this study. Compared with endometrial tissue, protein expression of CXCL16 was significantly higher in tissues from the fertile control samples, especially in villus. Meanwhile, the primary trophoblast cells and decidual stromal cells (DSCs) secreted more CXCL16 and expressed higher CXCR6 compared to endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) in vitro. Stimulation with the inducer of decidualization (8-bromoadenosine 3′,5′-cyclic with medroxyprogesterone acetate, 8-Br-cAMP plus MPA) significantly upregulated the expression of CXCL16 and CXCR6 in ESCs in vitro. After treatment with exogenous recombinant human CXCL16 (rhCXCL16) or trophoblast-secreted CXLC16, decidualised ESCs showed a significant decidual response, mainly characterised by increased prolactin (PRL) secretion. Simultaneously, PI3K/PDK1/AKT/Cyclin D1 pathway in decidualised ESCs were activated by rhCXCL16, and AKT inhibitor GS 690693 abolished the PRL secretion of ESCs that was triggered by rhCXCL16. Finally, the impaired CXCL16/CXCR6 expression could be observed at the maternal–foetal interface from patients who have experienced spontaneous abortion. This study suggests that the CXCL16/CXCR6 axis contributes to the progression of ESC decidualization by activating PI3K/PDK1/AKT/Cyclin D1 pathway. It unveils a new paradigm at the maternal–foetal interface in which CXCL16 is an initiator for the molecular crosstalk that enhances decidualization of ESCs.

Free access

Zechen Yan, Dandan Fan, Qingjun Meng, Jinjian Yang, Wei Zhao, Fei Guo, Dongjian Song, Ruiming Guo, Ke Sun, and Jiaxiang Wang

The production of haploid gametes by meiosis is a cornerstone of sexual reproduction and maintenance of genome integrity. Zfp38 mRNA is expressed in spermatocytes, indicating that transcription factor ZFP38 has the potential to regulate transcription during meiosis. In this study, we generated Zfp38 conditional knockout mice (Zfp38 flox/flox, Stra8-Cre, hereafter called Zfp38 cKO) and found that spermatogenesis did not progress beyond meiosis prophase I in Zfp38 cKO mice. Using a chromosomal spread technique, we observed that Zfp38 cKO spermatocytes exhibited a failure in chromosomal synapsis observed by SYCP1/SYCP3 double staining. Progression of DNA double-strand breaks (DSB) repair is disrupted in Zfp38 cKO spermatocytes, as revealed by γ-H2AX, RAD51 and MLH1 staining. Furthermore, the mRNA and protein levels of DSB repair enzymes and factors that guide their loading onto sites of DSBs, such as RAD51, DMC1, RAD51, TEX15 and PALB2, were significantly reduced in Zfp38 cKO spermatocytes. Taken together, our data suggest that ZFP38 is critical for the chromosomal synapsis and DSB repairs partially via its regulation of DSB repair-associated protein expression during meiotic progression in mouse.

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

Sha-Ting Lei, Ming-Qing Li, Yan-Ling Cao, Shu-Hui Hou, Hai-Yan Peng, Dong Zhao, and Jing Sun

Endometriosis (EMS) is a chronic benign inflammatory disease characterized by the growth of endometrial-like tissue in aberrant locations outside of the uterine cavity. Angiogenesis and abnormal immune responses are the fundamental requirements of endometriotic lesion survival in the peritoneal cavity. Follistatin-like I (FSTL1) is a secreted glycoprotein that exhibits varied expression levels in cardiovascular disease, cancer and arthritis. However, the role of FSTL1 in the development of EMS remains to be fully elucidated. Results of the present study demonstrated that the expression of FSTL1 was significantly increased in ectopic endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) and peritoneal fluid from patients with EMS, compared to the control group. Both conditions of hypoxia and estrogen treatment induced human ESCs to produce increased levels of FSTL1 and disco-interacting protein 2 homolog A (DIP2A). Furthermore, the expression levels of DIP2A, IL8 and IL1β were increased in FSTL1 overexpressed HESCs. Additionally, FSTL1 treatment increased the proliferation of HUVECs in a dose-dependent manner in vitro and markedly increased the tube formation of HUVECs. Moreover, treatment with FSTL1 facilitated M1 polarization of macrophages, increased the secretion of proinflammatory factors and inhibited the expression of scavenger receptor CD36. Results of the present study suggested that the elevated expression of FSTL1 may play a key role in accelerating the development of EMS via enhancing the secretion of proinflammatory factors and promoting angiogenesis.

Free access

Cai-Xia Yang, Zhao-Hui Kou, Kai Wang, Yan Jiang, Wen-Wei Mao, Qing-Yuan Sun, Hui-Zhen Sheng, and Da-Yuan Chen

In cloned animals where somatic cell nuclei and oocytes are from the same or closely related species, the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of the oocyte is dominantly inherited. However, in nuclear transfer (NT) embryos where nuclear donor and oocyte are from two distantly related species, the distribution of the mtDNA species is not known. Here we determined the levels of macaque and rabbit mtDNAs in macaque embryos reprogrammed by rabbit oocytes. Quantification using a real-time PCR method showed that both macaque and rabbit mtDNAs coexist in NT embryos at all preimplantation stages, with maternal mtDNA being dominant. Single NT embryos at the 1-cell stage immediately after fusion contained 2.6 × 104 copies of macaque mtDNA and 1.3 × 106 copies of rabbit mtDNA. Copy numbers of both mtDNA species did not change significantly from the 1-cell to the morula stages. In the single blastocyst, however, the number of rabbit mtDNA increased dramatically while macaque mtDNA decreased. The ratio of nuclear donor mtDNA to oocyte mtDNA dropped sharply from 2% at the 1-cell stage to 0.011% at the blastocyst stage. These results suggest that maternal mtDNA replicates after the morula stage.

Free access

Naihong Yan, Yilu Lu, Huaqin Sun, Dachang Tao, Sizhong Zhang, Wenying Liu, and Yongxin Ma

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNA molecules playing regulatory roles by repressing translation or cleaving RNA transcripts. Recent studies indicate that miRNAs are mechanistically involved in the development of mammalian spermatogenesis. However, little work has been done to compare the miRNA expression patterns between immature and mature mouse testes. Here, we employed a miRNA microarray to detect 892 miRNAs in order to evaluate the expression patterns of miRNA. The expression of 19 miRNAs was significantly different between immature and mature individuals. Fourteen miRNAs were significantly upregulated and five miRNAs were downregulated in immature mice and this result was further confirmed by a quantitative real-time RT-PCR assay. Many target genes involved in spermatogenesis are predicted by MiRscan performing miRNA target scanning. Our data indicated specific miRNAs expression in immature mouse testis and suggested that miRNAs have a role in regulating spermatogenesis.

Free access

Hua-Yu Lian, Yan Gao, Guang-Zhong Jiao, Ming-Ju Sun, Xiu-Fen Wu, Tian-Yang Wang, Hong Li, and Jing-He Tan

In this study, using a mouse model, we tested the hypothesis that restraint stress would impair the developmental potential of oocytes by causing oxidative stress and that antioxidant supplementation could overcome the adverse effect of stress-induced oxidative stress. Female mice were subjected to restraint stress for 24 h starting 24 h after equine chorionic gonadotropin injection. At the end of stress exposure, mice were either killed to recover oocytes for in vitro maturation (IVM) or injected with human chorionic gonadotropin and caged with male mice to observe in vivo development. The effect of antioxidants was tested in vitro by adding them to IVM medium or in vivo by maternal injection immediately before restraint stress exposure. Assays carried out to determine total oxidant and antioxidant status, oxidative stress index, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) and glutathione levels indicated that restraint stress increased oxidative stress in mouse serum, ovaries, and oocytes. Whereas the percentage of blastocysts and number of cells per blastocyst decreased significantly in oocytes from restraint-stressed mice, addition of antioxidants to IVM medium significantly improved their blastocyst development. Supplementation of cystine and cysteamine to IVM medium reduced ROS levels and aneuploidy while increasing glutathione synthesis and improving pre- and postimplantation development of oocytes from restraint-stressed mice. Furthermore, injection of the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate into restraint-stressed mice significantly improved the blastocyst formation and postimplantation development of their oocytes. In conclusion, restraint stress at the oocyte prematuration stage impaired the developmental potential of oocytes by increasing oxidative stress and addition of antioxidants to IVM medium or maternal antioxidant injection overcame the detrimental effect of stress-induced oxidative stress. The data reported herein are helpful when making attempts to increase the chances of a successful outcome in human IVF, because restraint was applied at a stage similar to the FSH stimulation period in a human IVF program.