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Zhen-Yu Zheng, Qing-Zhang Li, Da-Yuan Chen, Heide Schatten, and Qing-Yuan Sun

The protein kinase Cs (PKCs) are a family of Ser/Thr protein kinases categorized into three subfamilies: classical, novel, and atypical. The phosphorylation of PKC in germ cells is not well defined. In this study, we described the subcellular localization of phopho-PKC in the process of mouse oocyte maturation, fertilization, and early embryonic mitosis. Confocal microscopy revealed that phospho-PKC (pan) was distributed abundantly in the nucleus at the germinal vesicle stage. After germinal vesicle breakdown, phospho-PKC was localized in the vicinity of the condensed chromosomes, distributed in the whole meiotic spindle, and concentrated at the spindle poles. After metaphase I, phospho-PKC was translocated gradually to the spindle mid-zone during emission of the first polar body. After sperm penetration and electrical activation, the distribution of phospho-PKC was moved from the spindle poles to the spindle mid-zone. After the extrusion of the second polar body (PB2) phospho-PKC was localized in the area between the oocyte and the PB2. In fertilized eggs, phospho-PKC was concentrated in the pronuclei except for the nucleolus. Phospho-PKC was dispersed after pronuclear envelope breakdown, but distributed on the entire spindle at mitotic metaphase. The results suggest that PKC activation may play important roles in regulating spindle organization and stabilization, polar-body extrusion, and nuclear activity during mouse oocyte meiosis, fertilization, and early embryonic mitosis.

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Xiao-yu Yang, Hua Li, Qing-wen Ma, Jing-bin Yan, Jiang-guo Zhao, Hua-wei Li, Hai-qing Shen, Hai-feng Liu, Ying Huang, Shu-Zhen Huang, Yi-Tao Zeng, and Fanyi Zeng

Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) has been used for the cloning of various mammals. However, the rates of successful, healthy birth are generally poor. To improve cloning efficiency, we report the utilization of an ‘autologous SCNT’ cloning technique in which the somatic nucleus of a female bovine donor is transferred to its own enucleated oocyte recovered by ovum pick up, in contrast to the routine ‘allogeneic SCNT’ procedure using oocytes from unrelated females. Our results showed that embryos derived from autologous SCNThave significantly higher developmental competence than those derived from allogeneic SCNT, especiallyat the eight-cell (60 vs 44%), morula (45 vs 36%), and blastocyst (38 vs 23%) stages. The pregnancy and birth rates were also higher for the autologous (39 and 23%), compared to the allogeneic (22 and 6%) SCNT groups. Genome-wide histone3-lysine9 methylation profiles reveal that autologous SCNTembryos have less epigenetic defects than the allogeneic SCNTembryos. This study indicates that autologous SCNT can improve the efficiency of bovine cloning with less reprogramming deficiency.

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Zhengkai Wei, Tingting Yu, Jingjing Wang, Chaoqun Wang, Xiao Liu, Zhen Han, Xu Zhang, Yong Zhang, Hongsheng Ouyang, and Zhengtao Yang

Sperm motility, fertilization and embryo implantation are several important factors in reproduction. Except healthy state of sperm and embryo themselves, successful pregnancy is closely related to the status of female reproductive tract immune system. Increased immune cells in reproductive tract often leads to low sperm motility and low chance of embryo implantation, but the mechanisms remain not well clarified. The aim of this study is to investigate the direct effects of swine polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) on sperm or embryo in vitro and then try to clarify the molecular mechanisms undergoing the phenomenon. Swine sperm-triggered neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) were observed by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). PMNs phagocytosis of sperms was examined by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Sperm-triggered NETs were quantitated by Pico Green®. Vital staining of the interaction between PMNs and embryo were observed by using confocal microscope. It was showed that PMNs were directly activated by sperm in the form of phagocytosis or casting NETs and that sperm-triggered-NETs formation was made up with DNA co-located with citrullinated histone 3 (citH3) and myeloperoxidase (MPO). In addition, the potential mechanism of NETs release was relevant to NADPH oxidase, ERK1/2 or p38 MAPK signaling pathways. Of great interest was that swine embryo was first found entangled in NETs in vitro, but the function and mechanism of this action in vivo fertilization still needed further investigation. In conclusion, this is the first report about swine sperm-induced NETs that entangle sperm and embryo, which might provide an entirely understanding of swine reproductive physiology and immunology.

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Xue-Min Qiu, Zhen-Zhen Lai, Si-Yao Ha, Hui-Li Yang, Li-Bing Liu, Yan Wang, Jia-Wei Shi, Lu-Yu Ruan, Jiang-Feng Ye, Jiang-Nan Wu, Qiang Fu, Xiao-Fang Yi, Kai-Kai Chang, and Ming-Qing Li

Immune cells and cytokines have important roles in the pathogenesis of endometriosis. However, the production and role of cytokines of T helper type 1 (Th1) and Th2 cells in the progress of endometriosis have remained to be fully elucidated. The present study reported that the interferon (IFN)-γ levels and the percentage of IFN-γ+CD4+ cells were significantly increased in the peritoneal fluid (PF) at the early stage and maintained at a higher level at the advanced stage of endometriosis; furthermore, interleukin (IL)-10 and IL-10+CD4+ cells were elevated in the advanced stage of endometriosis. In addition, IL-2 levels in the PF at the advanced stage of endometriosis were elevated and negatively associated with IFN-γ expression. In a co-culture system of ectopic endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) and macrophages, elevated IL-2 was observed, and treatment with cytokines IL-2 and transforming growth factor-β led to upregulation of the ratio of IL-2+ macrophages. IL-27-overexpressing ESCs and macrophages were able to induce a higher ratio of IL-10+CD4+ T cells. Blocking of IL-2 with anti-IL-2 neutralizing antibody led to upregulation of the ratio of IFN-γ+CD4+ T cells in the co-culture system in vitro. Recombinant human IL-10 and IFN-γ promoted the viability, invasiveness and transcription levels of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)2, MMP9, and prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2 of ESCs, particularly combined treatment with IL-10 and IFN-γ. These results suggest that IL-2 and IL-27 synergistically promote the growth and invasion of ESCs by modulating the balance of IFN-γ and IL-10 and contribute to the progress of endometriosis.

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Li-Ying Yan, Jun-Cheng Huang, Zi-Yu Zhu, Zi-Li Lei, Li-Hong Shi, Chang-Long Nan, Zhen-Jun Zhao, Ying-Chun OuYang, Xiang-Fen Song, Qing-Yuan Sun, and Da-Yuan Chen

The assembly of microtubules and the distribution of NuMA were analyzed in rabbit oocytes and early cloned embryos. α-Tubulin was localized around the periphery of the germinal vesicle (GV). After germinal vesicle breakdown (GVBD), multi-arrayed microtubules were found tightly associated with the condensed chromosomes and assembled into spindles. After the enucleated oocyte was fused with a fibroblast, microtubules were observed around the introduced nucleus in most reconstructed embryos and formed a transient spindle 2–4 h post-fusion (hpf). A mass of microtubules surrounded the swollen pseudo-pronucleus 5 hpf and a normal spindle was formed 13 hpf in cloned embryos. NuMAwas detected in the nucleus in germinal vesicle-stage oocytes, and it was concentrated at the spindle poles in both meiotic and mitotic metaphase. In both donor cell nucleus and enucleated oocyte cytoplasm, NuMA was not detected, while NuMA reappeared in pseudo-pronucleus as reconstructed embryo development proceeded. However, no evident NuMA staining was observed in the poles of transient spindle and first mitotic spindle in nuclear transfer eggs. These results indicate that NuMA localization and its spindle pole tethering function are different during rabbit oocyte meiosis and cloned embryo mitosis.

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Fenfen Xie, Junhui Zhang, Muxin Zhai, Yajing Liu, Hui Hu, Zhen Yu, Junqiang Zhang, Shuai Lin, Dan Liang, and Yunxia Cao

Emerging evidence has demonstrated that melatonin (MT) plays a crucial role in regulating mammalian reproductive functions. It has been reported that MT has a protective effect on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). However, the protective mechanisms of MT remain poorly understood. This study aims to explore the effect of MT on ovarian function in PCOS and to elucidate the relevant molecular mechanisms in vivo and in vitro. We first analysed MT expression levels in the follicular fluid of PCOS patients. A significant reduction in MT expression levels was noted in PCOS patients. Intriguingly, reduced MT levels correlated with serum testosterone and inflammatory cytokine levels in follicular fluid. Moreover, we confirmed the protective function of MT through regulating autophagy in a DHEA-induced PCOS rat model. Autophagy was activated in the ovarian tissue of the PCOS rat model, whereas additional MT inhibited autophagy by increasing PI3K−-Akt pathway expression. In addition, serum-free testosterone, inflammatory and apoptosis indexes were reduced after MT supplementation. Furthermore, we also found that MT suppressed autophagy and apoptosis by activating the PI3K-Akt pathway in the DHEA-exposed human granulosa cell line KGN. Our study showed that MT ameliorated ovarian dysfunction by regulating autophagy in DHEA-induced PCOS via the PI3K-Akt pathway, revealing a potential therapeutic drug target for PCOS.

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Xue-Ying Zhang, Yi-Meng Xiong, Ya-Jing Tan, Li Wang, Rong Li, Yong Zhang, Xin-Mei Liu, Xian-Hua Lin, Li Jin, Yu-Ting Hu, Zhen-Hua Tang, Zheng-Mu Wu, Feng-Hua Yin, Zheng-Quan Wang, Ye Xiao, Jian-Zhong Sheng, and He-Feng Huang

Fertilization failure often occurs during in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles despite apparently normal sperm and oocytes. Accumulating evidence suggests that mitochondria play crucial roles in the regulation of sperm function and male fertility. 3-Nitrophthalic acid (3-NPA) can induce oxidative stress in mitochondria, and melatonin, as an antioxidant, can improve mitochondrial function by reducing mitochondrial oxidative stress. The role of sperm mitochondrial dysfunction in fertilization failure during IVF is unclear. The present study revealed that spermatozoa with low, or poor, fertilization rates had swollen mitochondria, increased mitochondria-derived ROS, and attenuated mitochondrial respiratory capacity. 3-NPA treatment enhanced mitochondrial dysfunction in sperm. Spermatozoa with poor fertilization rates, and spermatozoa treated with 3-NPA, had reduced penetration ability. The concentration of melatonin was decreased in semen samples with low and poor fertilization rates. Melatonin, not only decreased excessive mitochondria-derived ROS, but also ‘rescued’ the reduced penetration capacity of spermatozoa treated with 3-NPA. Taken together, the study suggested that mitochondria-derived ROS and mitochondrial respiratory capacity are independent bio-markers for sperm dysfunction, and melatonin may be useful in improving sperm quality and overall male fertility.