[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ESCs are most commonly derived from embryos originating from oocytes that reached metaphase II. We describe here a novel approach where ESCs with all pluripotency parameters were established from oocytes in which metaphase I was converted, from the cell cycle perspective, directly into metaphase II-like stage without the intervening anaphase to telophase I transition. The resulting embryos initiate development and reach the blastocyst stage from which the ESC lines are then established. Thus, our approach could represent an ethically acceptable method that can exploit oocytes that are typically discarded in in vitro fertilization clinics. Moreover, our results also indicate that the meiotic cell cycle can be converted into mitosis by modulating chromosomal contacts that are typical for meiosis with subsequent licensing of chromatin for DNA replication.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Because mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) do not contribute to the formation of extraembryonic placenta when they are injected into blastocysts, it is believed that mESCs do not differentiate into trophoblast whereas human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can express trophoblast markers when exposed to bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) in vitro. To test whether mESCs have the potential to differentiate into trophoblast, we assessed the effect of BMP4 on mESCs in a defined monolayer culture condition. The expression of trophoblast-specific transcription factors such as Cdx2, Dlx3, Esx1, Gata3, Hand1, Mash2, and Plx1 was specifically upregulated in the BMP4-treated differentiated cells, and these cells expressed trophoblast markers. These results suggest that BMP4 treatment in defined culture conditions enabled mESCs to differentiate into trophoblast. This differentiation was inhibited by serum or leukemia inhibitory factor, which are generally used for mESC culture. In addition, we studied the mechanism underlying BMP4-directed mESC differentiation into trophoblast. Our results showed that BMP4 activates the Smad pathway in mESCs inducing Cdx2 expression, which plays a crucial role in trophoblast differentiation, through the binding of Smad protein to the Cdx2 genomic enhancer sequence. Our findings imply that there is a common molecular mechanism underlying hESC and mESC differentiation into trophoblast.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Somatic cell cloning by nuclear transfer (NT) in mice is associated with hyperplastic placentas at term. To dissect the effects of embryonic and extraembryonic tissues on this clone-associated phenotype, we constructed diploid (2n) fused with (<-->) tetraploid (4n) chimeras from NT- and fertilization-derived (FD) embryos. Generally, the 4n cells contributed efficiently to all the extraembryonic tissues but not to the embryo itself. Embryos constructed by 2n NT<-->4n FD aggregation developed hyperplastic placentas (0.33+/-0.22 g) with a predominant contribution by NT-derived cells. Even when the population of FD-derived cells in placentas was increased using multiple FD embryos (up to four) for aggregation, most placentas remained hyperplastic (0.36+/-0.13 g). By contrast, placentas of the reciprocal combination, 2n FD<-->4n NT, were less hyperplastic (0.15+/-0.02 g). These nearly normal-looking placentas had a large proportion of NT-derived cells. Thus, embryonic rather than extraembryonic tissues had more impact on the onset of placental hyperplasia, and that the abnormal placentation in clones occurs in a noncell-autonomous manner. These findings suggest that for improvement of cloning efficiency we should understand the mechanisms regulating placentation, especially those of embryonic origin that might control the proliferation of trophoblastic lineage cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although embryonic stem (ES) cell lines derived from mice and primates are used extensively, the development of such lines from other mammals is extremely difficult because of their rapid decline in proliferation potential and pluripotency after several passages. This study describes the establishment of rabbit ES cell lines with indefinite proliferation potential. It was found that the feeder cell density determines the fate of rabbit ES cells, and that maximum proliferation potential was obtained when they were cultured on a feeder cell density of one-sixth of the density at confluency. Higher and lower densities of feeder cells induced ES cell differentiation or division arrest. Under optimized conditions, rabbit ES cells were passaged 50 times, after which they still possessed high telomerase activity. This culture system enabled efficient gene transduction and clonal expansion from single cells. During culture, rabbit ES cells exhibited flattened monolayer cell colonies, as reported for monkey and human ES cells, and expressed pluripotency markers. Embryoid bodies and teratomas formed readily in vitro and in vivo respectively. These ES cell lines can be safely cryopreserved for later use. Thus, rabbit ES cells can be added to the list of stable mammalian ES cells, enabling the rabbit to be used as a small animal model for the study of human cell transplantation therapy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hyperplastic placentas have been reported in several experimental mouse models, including animals produced by somatic cell nuclear transfer, by inter(sub)species hybridization, and by somatic cytoplasm introduction to oocytes followed by intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Of great interest are the gross and histological features common to these placental phenotypes--despite their quite different etiologies--such as the enlargement of the spongiotrophoblast layers. To find morphological clues to the pathways leading to these similar placental phenotypes, we analyzed the ultrastructure of the three different types of hyperplastic placenta. Most cells affected were of trophoblast origin and their subcellular ultrastructural lesions were common to the three groups, e.g., a heavy accumulation of cytoplasmic vacuoles in the trophoblastic cells composing the labyrinthine wall and an increased volume of spongiotrophoblastic cells with extraordinarily dilatated rough endoplasmic reticulum. Although the numbers of trophoblastic glycogen cells were greatly increased, they maintained their normal ultrastructural morphology, including a heavy glycogen deposition throughout the cytoplasm. The fetal endothelium and small vessels were nearly intact. Our ultrastructural study suggests that these three types of placental hyperplasias, with different etiologies, may have common pathological pathways, which probably exclusively affect the development of certain cell types of the trophoblastic lineage during mouse placentation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Eutherian placenta, an organ that emerged in the course of mammalian evolution, provides essential architecture, the so-called feto-maternal interface, for fetal development by exchanging nutrition, gas and waste between fetal and maternal blood. Functional defects of the placenta cause several developmental disorders, such as intrauterine growth retardation in humans and mice. A series of new inventions and/or adaptations must have been necessary to form and maintain eutherian chorioallantoic placenta, which consists of capillary endothelial cells and a surrounding trophoblast cell layer(s). Although many placental genes have been identified, it remains unknown how the feto-maternal interface is formed and maintained during development, and how this novel design evolved. Here we demonstrate that retrotransposon-derived Rtl1 (retrotransposon-like 1), also known as Peg11 (paternally expressed 11), is essential for maintenance of the fetal capillaries, and that both its loss and its overproduction cause late-fetal and/or neonatal lethality in mice.