Cloning methods are now well described and in almost routine use. However, the frequencies of production of live offspring from activated oocytes remain at < 3% and little is known about the factors that affect these frequencies. The effects of cytokinesis inhibitors, dimethylsulphoxide (DMSO) and the cell cycle of recipient cytoplasm on the cloning of mice were examined. Reconstructed oocytes, which were activated immediately after nucleus injection and cultured without cytochalasin B, developed into blastocysts at a frequency of 30--54% and into live cloned offspring at a frequency of 2--3%. Activated zygotes did not support development to full term after nuclear transfer. Reconstructed oocytes were activated 1--3 h after nuclear transfer and were exposed separately to three inhibitors of cytokinesis (cytochalasin B, cytochalasin D or nocodazole) to examine the toxicity of these inhibitors on cloning. All of the oocytes exposed to nocodazole-containing media formed many small pseudo-pronuclei, whereas with cytochalasin-containing media most of the activated oocytes formed only two pseudo-pronuclei. Despite such differences, 42--61% of reconstructed embryos developed to the morula-blastocyst stage and 1--3% developed to full term in all groups. Addition of 1% (v/v) DMSO to the activation medium significantly improved the frequency of development to the blastocyst stage and full term; however, this improvement did not lead to a higher success rate in the generation of live cloned offspring. These results show that activated mouse oocytes/zygotes are not effective cytoplasmic recipients with the methods described and that the lack of success of cloning is not due to inhibition of cytokinesis.
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