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Guo-Min Zhang, Ming-Tian Deng, Zhi-Hai Lei, Yong-Jie Wan, Hai-Tao Nie, Zi-Yu Wang, Yi-Xuan Fan, Feng Wang, and Yan-Li Zhang

During goat follicular development, abnormal expression of nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF1) in granulosa cells may drive follicular atresia with unknown regulatory mechanisms. In this study, we investigated the effects of NRF1 on steroidogenesis and cell apoptosis by overexpressing or silencing it in goat luteinized granulosa cells (LGCs). Results showed that knockdown of NRF1 expression significantly inhibited the expression of STAR and CYP19A1, which are involved in sex steroid hormones synthesis, and led to lower estrogen levels. Knockdown of NRF1 resulted in an increased percentage of apoptosis, probably due to the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, accompanied by upregulating mRNA and protein levels of apoptosis-related markers BAX, caspase 3 and caspase 9. These data indicate that NRF1 might be related with steroidogenesis and cell apoptosis. Furthermore, NRF1 silence reduced mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM) transcription activity, mtDNA copy number and ATP level. Simultaneously, knockdown of NRF1 suppressed the transcription and translation levels of SOD, GPx and CAT, decreased glutathione level and increased 8-OHdG level. However, the overexpression of NRF1 in LGCs or gain of TFAM in NRF1 silenced LGCs increased the expression of genes involved in mitochondrial function and biogenesis, and elevated the antioxidant stress system and steroids synthesis. Taken together, aberrant expression of NRF1 could induce mitochondrial dysfunction and disturb the cellular redox balance, which lead to disturbance of steroid hormone synthesis, and trigger LGC apoptosis through the mitochondria-dependent pathway. These findings will be helpful for understanding the role of NRF1 in goat ovarian follicular development and atresia.

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Shijia Ying, Ziyu Wang, Changlong Wang, Haitao Nie, Dongyang He, Ruoxin Jia, Yongcong Wu, Yongjie Wan, Zhengrong Zhou, Yibo Yan, Yanli Zhang, and Feng Wang

This study investigated the effects of short-term food restriction or supplementation on folliculogenesis and plasma and intrafollicular metabolite and hormone concentrations. Ewes were randomly assigned to three groups: the control group received a maintenance diet (M) while the supplemented group and restricted group received 1.5×M and 0.5×M respectively on days 6–12 of their estrous cycle. Estrus was synchronized by intravaginal progestogen sponges for 12 days. On days 7–12, blood samples were taken. After slaughter, the ovarian follicles were classified and the follicular fluid was collected. Compared with restriction, supplementation shortened the estrous cycle length, decreased the number of follicles 2.5–3.5 mm and follicular fluid estradiol (E2) concentration, increased the number of follicles >3.5 mm and plasma glucose, insulin and glucagon concentrations, and augmented the volume of follicles >2.5 mm. Restricted ewes had higher intrafollicular insulin concentration, but it was similar to that of supplemented ewes. Compared with follicles ≤2.5 mm, the intrafollicular glucose and E2 concentrations were increased and the testosterone, insulin, and glucagon concentrations and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity were decreased in follicles >2.5 mm. Only in restricted ewes were intrafollicular LDH and testosterone concentrations in follicles ≤2.5 mm not different from those in follicles ≤2.5 mm. In conclusion, the mechanism by which short-term dietary restriction inhibits folliculogenesis may involve responses to intrafollicular increased E2, testosterone, and LDH levels in late-stage follicles. This may not be due to the variation of intrafollicular insulin level but rather due to decreased circulating levels of glucose, insulin, and glucagon.

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Marcela Vilarino, Delia Alba Soto, Yanina Soledad Bogliotti, Leqian Yu, Yanli Zhang, Chunsheng Wang, Erika Paulson, Cuiqing Zhong, Miaohan Jin, Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, Jun Wu, and Pablo Juan Ross

Until recently, it has been difficult to derive and maintain stable embryonic stem cells lines from livestock species. Sheep ESCs with characteristics similar to those described for rodents and primates have not been produced. We report the derivation of sheep ESCs under a chemically defined culture system containing fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2) and a tankyrase/Wnt inhibitor (IWR1). We also show that several culture conditions used for stabilizing naïve and intermediate pluripotency states in humans and mice were unsuitable to maintain ovine pluripotency in vitro. Sheep ESCs display a smooth dome-shaped colony morphology, and maintain an euploid karyotype and stable expression of pluripotency markers after more than 40 passages. We further demonstrate that IWR1 and FGF2 are essential for the maintenance of an undifferentiated state in de novo derived sheep ESCs. The derivation of stable pluripotent cell lines from sheep blastocysts represents a step forward toward understanding pluripotency regulation in livestock species and developing novel biomedical and agricultural applications.