Cleavage pattern and survivin expression in porcine embryos by somatic cell nuclear transfer.
ABSTRACT Mammalian embryos produced in vitro show a high rate of early developmental failure. Numerous somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) embryos undergo arrest and show abnormal gene expression in the early developmental stages. The purpose of this study was to analyze porcine SCNT embryo development and investigate the cause of porcine SCNT embryo arrest. The temporal cleavage pattern of porcine SCNT embryos was analyzed first, and the blastocyst origin at early developmental stage was identified. To investigate markers of arrest in the cleavage patterns of preimplantation SCNT embryos, the expression of survivin-the smallest member of the inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) gene family, which suppresses apoptosis and regulates cell division-was compared between embryos showing normal cleavage and arrested embryos. A total of 511 SCNT embryos were used for cleavage pattern analysis. Twenty-four hours post activation (hpa), embryos were classified into five groups based on the cleavage stage as follows; 1-cell, 2-cell, 4-cell, 8-cell and fragmentation (frag). In addition, 48 hpa embryos were more strictly classified into 15 groups based on the cleavage stage of 24 hpa; 1-1 cell (24 hpa-48 hpa), 1-2 cell, 1-4 cell, 1-8 cell, 1 cell-frag, 2-2 cell, 2-4 cell, 2-8 cell, 2 cell-frag, 4-4 cell, 4-8 cell, 4 cell-frag, 8-8 cell, 8 cell-frag, and frag-frag. These groups were cultured until 7 d post activation, and were evaluated for blastocyst formation. At 24 hpa, the proportion of 2-cell stage was significantly higher (44.5%) than those in the other cleavage stages (1-cell: 13.4%; 4-cell: 17.9%; 8-cell: 10.3%; and frag: 13.9%). At 48 hpa, the proportion of embryos in the 2-4 cell stage was significantly higher (32.4%) than those in the other cleavage stages (2-8 cell: 8.2%; 4-8 cell: 12.1%; and frag-frag: 13.9%). Some embryos arrested at 48 hpa (1-1 cell: 5.8%; 2-2 cell: 2.8%; 4-4 cell: 3.8%; 8-8 cell: 6.5%; and total arrested embryos: 18.9%). Blastocyst formation rates were higher in 2-4 cell cleavage group (20.2%) than in other groups. SCNT embryos in 2-4 cell stage showed stable developmental competence. In addition, we investigated survivin expression in porcine SCNT embryos during the early developmental stages. The levels of survivin mRNA in 2-cell, 4-cell stage SCNT embryos were significantly higher than those of arrested embryos. Survivin protein expression showed a similar pattern to that of survivin mRNA. Normally cleaving embryos showed higher survivin protein expression levels than arrested embryos. These observations suggested that 2-4 cell cleaving embryos at 48 hpa have high developmental competence, and that embryonic arrest, which may be influenced by survivin expression in porcine SCNT embryos.