The placenta has numerous functions, such as transporting oxygen and nutrients and building the immune tolerance of the fetus. Cell fusion is an essential process for placental development and maturation. In human placental development, mononucleated cytotrophoblast (CTB) cells can fuse to form a multinucleated syncytiotrophoblast (STB), which is the outermost layer of the placenta. Nephrin is a transmembrane protein that belongs to the Ig superfamily. Previous studies have shown that nephrin contributes to the fusion of myoblasts into myotubes in zebrafish and mice, presenting a functional conservation with its Drosophila ortholog sticks and stones. However, whether nephrin is involved in trophoblast syncytialization remains unclear. In this study, we report that nephrin was localized predominantly in the CTB cells and STB of human placenta villi from first trimester to term pregnancy. Using a spontaneous fusion model of primary CTB cells, the expression of nephrin was found to be increased during trophoblast cell fusion. Moreover, the spontaneous syncytialization and the expression of syncytin 2, connexin 43, and human chorionic gonadotropin beta were significantly inhibited by nephrin-specific siRNAs. The above results demonstrate that nephrin plays an important role in trophoblast syncytialization.
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Yue Li, Ru Zheng, Rui Wang, Xiaoyin Lu, Cheng Zhu, Hai-Yan Lin, Hongmei Wang, Xiaoguang Yu, and Jiejun Fu
Jiaojiao Huang, Hongyong Zhang, Jing Yao, Guosong Qin, Feng Wang, Xianlong Wang, Ailing Luo, Qiantao Zheng, Chunwei Cao, and Jianguo Zhao
Accumulating evidence suggests that faulty epigenetic reprogramming leads to the abnormal development of cloned embryos and results in the low success rates observed in all mammals produced through somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). The aberrant methylation status of H3K9me and H3K9me2 has been reported in cloned mouse embryos. To explore the role of H3K9me2 and H3K9me in the porcine somatic cell nuclear reprogramming, BIX-01294, known as a specific inhibitor of G9A (histone-lysine methyltransferase of H3K9), was used to treat the nuclear-transferred (NT) oocytes for 14–16 h after activation. The results showed that the developmental competence of porcine SCNT embryos was significantly enhanced both in vitro (blastocyst rate 16.4% vs 23.2%, P<0.05) and in vivo (cloning rate 1.59% vs 2.96%) after 50 nm BIX-01294 treatment. BIX-01294 treatment significantly decreased the levels of H3K9me2 and H3K9me at the 2- and 4-cell stages, which are associated with embryo genetic activation, and increased the transcriptional expression of the pluripotency genes SOX2, NANOG and OCT4 in cloned blastocysts. Furthermore, the histone acetylation levels of H3K9, H4K8 and H4K12 in cloned embryos were decreased after BIX-01294 treatment. However, co-treatment of activated NT oocytes with BIX-01294 and Scriptaid rescued donor nuclear chromatin from decreased histone acetylation of H4K8 that resulted from exposure to BIX-01294 only and consequently improved the preimplantation development of SCNT embryos (blastocyst formation rates of 23.7% vs 21.5%). These results indicated that treatment with BIX-01294 enhanced the developmental competence of porcine SCNT embryos through improvements in epigenetic reprogramming and gene expression.
Feng Wang, Zheng Chen, Xiaofang Ren, Ye Tian, Fucheng Wang, Chao Liu, Pengcheng Jin, Zongyue Li, Feixiong Zhang, and Baochang Zhu
Hormone-sensitive lipase-knockout (HSL−/−) mice exhibit azoospermia for unclear reasons. To explore the basis of sterility, we performed the following three experiments. First, HSL protein distribution in the testis was determined. Next, transcriptome analyses were performed on the testes of three experimental groups. Finally, the fatty acid and cholesterol levels in the testes with three different genotypes studied were determined. We found that the HSL protein was present from spermatocyte cells to mature sperm acrosomes in wild-type (HSL+/+) testes. Spermiogenesis ceased at the elongation phase of HSL−/− testes. Transcriptome analysis indicated that genes involved in lipid metabolism, cell membrane, reproduction and inflammation-related processes were disordered in HSL−/− testes. The cholesterol content was significantly higher in HSL−/− than that in HSL+/+ testis. Therefore, gene expression and cholesterol ester content differed in HSL−/− testes compared to other testes, which may explain the sterility of male HSL−/− mice.
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.
Ning Wang, Liya Wang, Fang Le, Qitao Zhan, Yingming Zheng, Guolian Ding, Xijing Chen, Jianzhong Sheng, Minyue Dong, Hefeng Huang, and Fan Jin
Despite the efforts to recapitulate the follicle environment, oocytes from in vitro maturation (IVM) have poorer developmental potential than those matured in vivo and the effects on the resultant offspring are of concern. The aim of this study was to determine altered gene expression in oocytes following IVM and to evaluate the expression of the arginine rich, mutated in early stage of tumors gene (Armet) and mitochondrial ribosomal protein L51 (Mrpl51) in embryos and brains of fetal/postnatal mice and the brain development of IVM offspring. An IVM mouse model was established while oocytes matured in vivo were used as the controls. Suppressive subtractive hybridization (SSH) and RT-PCR/western blot were used to analyze the differential expression of genes/proteins between IVM and the control group. HE staining and water maze were used to assess the histological changes in brain tissue and cognition of the offspring. The rates of fertilization, cleavage, and live birth were significantly decreased in IVM group. Thirteen genes were upregulated in IVM oocytes compared with the control, including Armet and Mrpl51. The higher level of Armet in IVM oocytes was retained in brain of newborn mice, which could be related to the upregulation of activating transcription factor 6 (Atf6) and X-box binding protein 1 (Xbp1), while Mrpl51 was expressed normally in brain of postnatal mice. No significant differences were detected in brain weight, neuronal counts, and the cognition in the offspring between the two groups. The present results suggested that IVM could affect the pregnancy outcome and the Armet and Mrpl51 gene/protein expression. The change in Armet expression lasted while the change of Mrpl51 disappeared after birth. However, the brain development of the offspring seemed to be unaffected by IVM.
Zheng-Bin Han, Guo-Cheng Lan, Yan-Guang Wu, Dong Han, Wei-Guo Feng, Jun-Zuo Wang, and Jing-He Tan
Using a well-in-drop (WID) oocyte/embryo culture system that allows identification of follicular origin, we have investigated the effects of granulosa cells (GCs) apoptosis, follicle size, cumulus–oocyte complexes (COCs) morphology, and cumulus expansion on the developmental competence of goat oocytes matured and cultured individually following parthenogenetic activation. The WID system supported oocyte maturation and embryo development to a level similar to the conventional group system. The majority of goat oocytes acquired competence for development up to the 8–16 cell stage in follicles larger than 2 mm, but did not gain the ability to form morula/blastocyst (M/Bs) until follicles larger than 3 mm in diameter. The extent of atresia affected M/Bs formation. This effect varied according to the follicle size. Cumulus expansion increased with follicle size and decreased with increasing incidence of GCs apoptosis. Oocyte developmental potential was also correlated with cumulus expansion. Regardless of the degree of follicle atresia, 73–84% of the floating cells in the follicular fluid (FF) underwent apoptosis. Correlation between floating cell density in FF and oocyte developmental potency suggests the possibility to use the floating cell density as a simple and non-invasive marker for oocyte quality. It is concluded that the developmental potential of an oocyte is determined by multifactor interactions, and multiple factors must be considered together to accurately predict the quality of an oocyte.
Wang Han-zheng, Lu Shu-hua, Shen Wei-xiong, Sun Zhi-da, Zhou Wei, Wu Yu-fen, and Zhou Mei-rong
Summary. Cell suspensions were prepared from human corpora lutea obtained during the mid-luteal phase. Progesterone production was assessed after short-term incubation of luteal cell suspensions. Luteal cells were very sensitive to hCG, the concentration required for 50% maximum response being 0·01 i.u./ml, and the response was 5 times higher than the basal production.
Oestradiol (1–100 μm) induced a significant dose-related decrease in both basal and hCG-stimulated progesterone production. The A-nor steroidal compounds anordrin and AF-45 reduced hCG-stimulated progesterone production only at the high concentration of 100 μm. The ED50 values were approximately 3 μm, 75 μm and 100 μm for oestradiol, AF-45 and anordrin respectively. Anordrin showed no significant effects on basal progesterone production. In addition, oestradiol markedly inhibited the activity of 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase in luteal cells, expressed by the conversion of pregnenolone to progesterone, but the inhibitory effects of anordrin and AF-45 were negligible or relatively low.
The effects of anordrin and AF-45 were different from those of oestradiol on progesterone production by human luteal cells in vitro, indicating that neither substance is likely to be a useful luteolytic agent in women.
Keywords: A-nor steroid; oestradiol; luteal cells; progesterone; 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase; man
Jinxiu Dong, Siqi Liu, Ziming Wang, Kai Zheng, Mengli Yang, Jianjun Liu, and Liuwang Nie
The specificity of sperm–egg recognition is crucial to species independence, and two proteins (Izumo1 and JUNO) are essential for gamete adhesion/fusion in mammals. However, hybridization, which is very common in turtles, also requires specific recognition of sperm–egg binding proteins. In this study, we discovered that natural selection plays an important role in the codon usage bias of Tu-Izumo1 and Tu-JUNO. Positively selected sites and co-evolutionary analyses between Tu-Izumo1 and Tu-JUNO have been previously reported, and we confirm these results in a larger analysis containing 25 turtle species. We also showed that Tu-JUNO is expressed on the oocyte surface and that Tu-Izumo1 and Tu-JUNO interact with each other directly in different species hybridization combinations. Co-immunization assays revealed that this interaction is evolutionarily conserved in turtles. The results of avidity-based extracellular interaction screening between Tu-Izumo1 and Tu-JUNO for sperm–oocyte binding pairs (both within and across species) likely suggest that the interaction force between Izumo1 and JUNO has a certain correlation in whether the turtles can hybridize. Our results lay a theoretical foundation for the subsequent development of techniques to detect whether different turtle species can interbreed, which would provide the molecular basis for breeding management and species protection of turtles.
Kang Shan, Ma Xiao-Wei, Wang Na, Zhang Xiu-Feng, Wen Deng-Gui, Guo Wei, Zhang Zheng-Mao, and Li Yan
Endometriosis, one of the most frequent diseases in gynecology, is a benign but invasive and metastatic disease. The altered expression of E-cadherin may play an important role in developing endometriosis. In this paper, we discuss the association of three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on the E-cadherin gene and risk of endometriosis. We examined the genotype frequency of three polymorphisms in 152 endometriosis patients and 189 control women. There was a significant difference in the frequency of the E-cadherin 3′-UTR C → T genotypes between endometriosis and controls (P = 0.01). The frequency of the C allele in patients (71.1%) was significantly higher than in the controls (63.8%; P = 0.04). When compared with the T/T + T/C genotypes, the C/C genotype had a significantly increased susceptibility to endometriosis, with an adjusted odds ratio of 1.79 (95% confidence interval = 1.17–2.76). No significant difference was found between endometriosis and control women on two polymorphisms (−160 C → A, −347 G → GA) at the gene promoter region of E-cadherin. The −160 C → A and −347 G → GA polymorphisms displayed linkage disequilibrium (D′ = 0.999). The −160 A/−347 GA haplotype was only detected in endometriosis patients (2%). These data show a relation between the E-cadherin 3′-UTR C → T polymorphism, the −160 A/−347 GA haplotype of two promoter polymorphisms and risk of endometriosis, suggesting a potential role in endometriosis development, at least in North Chinese women.
Yi Zheng, Aldo Jongejan, Callista L Mulder, Sebastiaan Mastenbroek, Sjoerd Repping, Yinghua Wang, Jinsong Li, and Geert Hamer
Spermatogenesis, starting with spermatogonial differentiation, is characterized by ongoing and dramatic alterations in composition and function of chromatin. Failure to maintain proper chromatin dynamics during spermatogenesis may lead to mutations, chromosomal aberrations or aneuploidies. When transmitted to the offspring, these can cause infertility or congenital malformations. The structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) 5/6 protein complex has recently been described to function in chromatin modeling and genomic integrity maintenance during spermatogonial differentiation and meiosis. Among the subunits of the SMC5/6 complex, non-SMC element 2 (NSMCE2) is an important small ubiquitin-related modifier (SUMO) ligase. NSMCE2 has been reported to be essential for mouse development, prevention of cancer and aging in adult mice and topological stress relief in human somatic cells. By using in vitro cultured primary mouse spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), referred to as male germline stem (GS) cells, we investigated the function of NSMCE2 during spermatogonial proliferation and differentiation. We first optimized a protocol to generate genetically modified GS cell lines using CRISPR-Cas9 and generated an Nsmce2 −/− GS cell line. Using this Nsmce2 −/− GS cell line, we found that NSMCE2 was dispensable for proliferation, differentiation and topological stress relief in mouse GS cells. Moreover, RNA sequencing analysis demonstrated that the transcriptome was only minimally affected by the absence of NSMCE2. Only differential expression of Sgsm1 appeared highly significant, but with SGSM1 protein levels being unaffected without NSMCE2. Hence, despite the essential roles of NSMCE2 in somatic cells, chromatin integrity maintenance seems differentially regulated in the germline.