[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In vitro expanded and frosted ovine amniotic epithelial cells (oAECs) were evaluated for their phenotype, stemness and attitude to differentiate into tenocytes. Fifteen horses with acute tendon lesions were treated with one intralesional injection of oAECs. Tendon recovery under controlled training was monitored. In vitro expanded oAECs showed a constant proliferative ability, a conserved phenotype and stable expression profile of stemness markers. Differentiation into tenocytes was also regularly documented. US controls showed the infilling of the defect and early good alignment of the fibers and 12 horses resumed their previous activity. Histological and immunohistochemical examinations in an explanted tendon demonstrated the low immunogenicity of oAECs that were able to survive in the healing site. In addition, oAECs supported the regenerative process producing ovine collagen type I amongst the equine collagen fibers. Considering our results, oAECs can be proposed as a new approach for the treatment of spontaneous equine tendon injuries.
Research in Veterinary Science 09/2012; · 1.77 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amniotic fluid has drawn increasing attention in the recent past as a cost-effective and accessible source of fetal stem cells. Amniotic fluid-derived mesenchymal stem cells (AFMSCs) that display high proliferation rate, large spectrum of differentiation potential and immunosuppressive features are considered optimal candidates for allogeneic repair of mesenchymal damaged tissues. In this study, ovine AFMSCs (oAFMSCs) isolated from 3 months-old sheep fetuses were characterized for their proliferation rate, specific surface antigen and pluripotency marker expression, genomic stability and mesenchymal lineage differentiation during their in vitro expansion (12 passages) and after nucleofection. The high proliferation rate of oAFMSCs gradually decreased during the first 6 subculture passages while the expression of surface molecules (CD29, CD58, CD166) and of pluripotencyassociated markers (OCT4, TERT, NANOG, SOX2), the in vitro osteogenic differentiation potential and a normal karyotype were maintained. Afterwards, oAFMSCs were nucleofectedwith a selectable plasmid coding for green fluorescent protein (GFP) using two different programs, U23 and C17, previously optimized for human mesenchymal stem cells. Transfection efficiencies were ~63% and ~37% while cell recoveries were ~10% and ~22%,respectively. Nucleofected oAFMSCs expressing the GFP transgene conserved their pluripotency marker profile, retained a normal karyotype and the osteogenic differentiation ability. Seven single clones with a GFP expression ranging from 80% to 97% were then isolated and expanded over one month, thus providing stably transfected cells with long-term therapeutic potential. The in vivo behavior of GFP-labeled oAFMSCs was tested on a previously validated preclinical model of experimentally induced Achille's tendon defect. The allotransplanted oAFMSCs were able to survive within the host tissue for one month enhancing the early phase of tendon healing as indicated by morphological and biomechanical results. Altogether these data suggest that genetically modified oAFMSCs might represent a valuable tool for in vivo preclinical studies in a highly valid translational model.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We set out to characterize stemness properties and osteogenic potential of sheep AEC (amniotic epithelial cells). AEC were isolated from 3-month-old fetuses and expanded in vitro for 12 passages. The morphology, surface markers, stemness markers and osteogenic differentiation were inspected after 1, 6 and 12 passages of expansion, with an average doubling time of 24 h. AEC clearly expressed the stemness markers Oct-3/4 (octamer-binding protein-3/4), Nanog, Sox2 and TERT (telomerase reverse transcriptase) and displayed low levels of global DNA methylation. Culture had moderate effects on cell conditions; some adhesion molecules progressively disappeared from the cell surface, and the expression of Sox2 and TERT was slightly reduced while Nanog increased. No changes occurred in the levels of DNA methylation. Cells organized in 3D spheroids were used for IVD (in vitro differentiation). Within these structures the cells developed a complex intercellular organization that involved extensive intercellular coupling despite continuous cell migration. Marked deposition of calcein in the ECM (extracellular matrix), increased ALP (alkaline phosphatase) activity, expression of bone-related genes (osteocalcin) and the matrix mineralization shown by Alizarin Red staining demonstrate that AEC can undergo rapid and extensive osteogenic differentiation. AEC introduced in experimental bone lesions survived in the site of implantation for 45 days and supported consistent bone neoformation, thus showing promising potential applications in osteogenic regenerative medicine.
Cell Biology International 08/2011; 36(1):7-19. · 1.64 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Assisted reproductive technologies allow to utilize a limited number of fully grown oocytes despite the presence in the ovary of a large pool of meiotically incompetent gametes potentially able to produce live births. In vitro folliculogenesis could be useful to recruit these oocytes by promoting their growth and differentiation.
In vitro folliculogenesis was performed starting from sheep preantral (PA) follicles to evaluate oocyte nuclear/epigenetic maturation. Chromatin configuration, quantification of global DNA methylation, and epigenetic remodelling enzymes were evaluated with immunocytochemistry, telomere elongation was assessed with the Q-FISH technique, while the DNA methylation status at the DMRs of maternally IGF2R and BEGAIN, and paternally H19 methylated imprinted genes was determined by bisulfite sequencing and COBRA. Specifically, 70% of PA underwent early antrum (EA) differentiation and supported in culture oocyte global DNA methylation, telomere elongation, TERT and Dnmt3a redistribution thus mimicking the physiological events that involve the oocyte during the transition from secondary to tertiary follicle. Dnmt1 anticipated cytoplasmic translocation in in vitro grown oocytes did not impair global and single gene DNA methylation. Indeed, the in vitro grown oocytes acquired a methylation profile of IGF2R and BEGAIN compatible with the follicle/oocyte stage reached, and maintained an unmethylated status of H19. In addition, the percentage of oocytes displaying a condensed chromatin configuration resulted lower in in vitro grown oocytes, however, their ability to undergo meiosis and early embryo development after IVF and parthenogenetic activation was similar to that recorded in EA follicle in vivo grown oocytes.
In conclusion, the in vitro folliculogenesis was able to support the intracellular/nuclear mechanisms leading the oocytes to acquire a meiotic and developmental competence. Thus, the in vitro culture may increase the availability of fertilizable oocytes in sheep, and become an in vitro translational model to investigate the mechanisms governing nuclear/epigenetic oocyte maturation.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(11):e27550. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Genomic imprinting is a mammalian developmental process that uses epigenetic mechanisms to induce monoallelic and parental-specific expression of particular autosomal genes. A crucial epigenetic event consists of DNA methylation of CpG-islands, which become differentially methylated regions (DMRs) on the maternal and paternal alleles during oogenesis or spermatogenesis (germline DMRs). By contrast, somatic DMRs are acquired after fertilization. While there are several studies referring to methylation acquisition within germline DMRs in the mouse and human, a comparable methylation analysis of orthologous sequences is still lacking in sheep. To identify germline DMRs, this study analysed the methylation status of the available CpG-islands of five ovine imprinted genes (H19, IGF2R, DLK1, DIO3 and BEGAIN) in mature spermatozoa and in female gametes at different stages of their follicle growth, including in vitro matured oocytes. The 5'-end CpG-island of H19 showed a full methylation in spermatozoa and an absent methylation in growing and fully grown oocytes. The intron 2 CpG-island of IGF2R was unmethylated in male gametes, while it showed a high level of methylation in early stages of oogenesis. The promoter CpG-islands of DLK1 and DIO3 were found to be unmethylated both in spermatozoa and oocytes. Finally, the exon 9 CpG-island of BEGAIN was hypermethylated in mature male gametes, while it showed an almost complete methylation only in late stages of oocyte development. Our findings suggest that DNA methylation establishment during early stages of sheep oogenesis and subsequent in vitro maturation is gene-specific and that, of the five genes investigated, only the CpG-islands of H19 and IGF2R might represent ovine germline DMRs.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Causative gain-of-function mutations of the RET tyrosine-kinase receptor gene have been reported in more than 95% of inherited cases of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC; OMIM# 155240). Most RET activating mutations are clustered in mutational "hot spots" in exons 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 16 and are usually detected by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) followed by direct sequencing. To improve sensitivity, time and costs of mutational screening we have developed a denaturing high performance chromatography (DHPLC) protocol, based on the detection of heteroduplex molecules by ion-pair reverse-phase liquid chromatography under partially denaturing conditions. The mutational screening of RET exons 10, 11, 13-16 was performed in a total of 111 subjects, including 45 MTC patients and 49 relatives with known RET mutations and 17 individuals, being at risk of hereditary MTC and carrying unknown RET alleles. Heteroduplex peaks with a distinct and reproducible DHPLC elution profile allowed the detection of both rare and common RET mutations. Overall, the DHPLC-based methodology showed a high level of sensitivity and accuracy, nearing 100%. Furthermore, our protocol showed the ability to identify: 1) all the mutated codons of RET located in the "hot spots" domain; 2) the different point mutations occurring in the same codon of RET gene; 3) less frequent or rare mutations; 4) polymorphisms. As such, it can be proposed as a relatively simple and highly accurate method for a rapid genetic testing for members of MTC families.
Journal of endocrinological investigation 03/2004; 27(2):111-6. · 1.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report on the screening of the entire BRCA1/BRCA2 coding sequence by SSCP, PTT, and direct sequencing in 68 Italian families with recurrent breast or ovarian cancer. For each investigated proband, the probability of being carrier of a BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation was evaluated using the BRCAPRO software. We detected BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations in 8 patients (11.7%). However, if considering only patients with a carrier probability >10%, the detection rate was 36.8%, confirming the usefulness of the BRCAPRO software. One change (BRCA1 4172insT) was a novel mutation not reported in BIC database.
Human Mutation 08/2003; 22(2):178-9. · 5.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The 677T allele of the MTHFR gene has been suggested to represent a factor of risk for male infertility. In order to confirm this association, we investigated the presence of the 677T allele in 93 Italian infertile patients, selected after the exclusion of other possible genetic causes of infertility, and in 105 Italian fertile controls. The homozygous 677TT genotype was present in 20.4% of patients and 27.6% of controls. These results do not support an association between the MTHFR 677T allele and male infertility in Italy.
Journal of endocrinological investigation 08/2003; 26(7):620-2. · 1.65 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hearing impairment (HI) is the most frequent sensory defect with wide genetic heterogeneity. Approximately 80% of genetic hearing loss is non-syndromic and 15-25% of exhibit autosomal dominant inheritance. We analysed an Italian three generation family in which non-syndromic hearing impairment is transmitted as an autosomal dominant trait. Onset of HI in all affected subjects occurred in the second decade of life, with subsequent gradual progression from moderate to profound loss. HI was bilateral and symmetrical, involving all frequencies. After exclusion of the known DFNA loci with markers from the Hereditary Hearing Loss Homepage (URL: http://dnalab-www.uia.ac.be/dnalab/hhh), a genome wide scan was carried out using 358 highly informative microsatellite markers. Significant linkage (Zmax=4.21, theta=0) was obtained with chromosome 2p12 markers. The results were confirmed by multipoint analysis (Zmax=4.51), using the location score method. Haplotype analysis defined a 9.6 cM disease gene interval on chromosome 2 without overlap with the other identified loci. Fine mapping and identification of candidate genes are in progress.
Journal of Medical Genetics 05/2003; 40(4):278-81. · 5.70 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The recent surge of DNA sequence information resulting from the efforts of agencies interested in deciphering the human genetic code has facilitated technological developments that have been critical in the identification of genes associated with numerous disease pathologies. In addition, these efforts have opened the door to the opportunity to develop novel genetic therapies to treat a broad range of inherited disorders. Through a joint effort by the University of Vermont, the University of Rome, Tor Vergata, University of Rome, La Sapienza, and the CSS Mendel Institute, Rome, an international meeting, 'Genome Medicine: Gene Therapy for the Millennium' was organized. This meeting provided a forum for the discussion of scientific and clinical advances stimulated by the explosion of sequence information generated by the Human Genome Project and the implications these advances have for gene therapy. The meeting had six sessions that focused on the functional evaluation of specific genes via biochemical analysis and through animal models, the development of novel therapeutic strategies involving gene targeting, artificial chromsomes, DNA delivery systems and non-embryonic stem cells, and on the ethical and social implications of these advances.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several studies, some of which have been updated during the recent workshop entitled Genome Medicine: Gene Therapy for the Millennium (Rome, 30 September-3 October 2001), have highlighted the usefulness of extrachromosomal or episomal genes in gene targeting strategies. Due to the selectable nature of antibiotic resistance and reporter genes, targeted correction of mutated versions of these extrachromosomal genes allows an accurate quantification of correction frequency. In addition, these model systems facilitate and speed up the optimization of critical parameters for the successful application of gene targeting approaches. In fact, type of cell line, gene delivery system, molar ratio of episomal target/therapeutic constructs, nature and design of therapeutic complexes and different recombinative proteins may be critical for the actual feasibility of each method. Although virus-based approaches are now being investigated as well, this article is focusing on the targeted correction of extrachromosomal genes by the use of small DNA fragments (SDF), chimeric RNA/DNA oligonucleotides (RDO) and triplex-forming oligonucleotides (TFO).
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The development of gene targeting strategies for specific modification of genomic DNA in human somatic cells has provided a potential gene therapy for the treatment of inherited diseases. One approach, small fragment homologous replacement (SFHR), directly targets and modifies specific genomic sequences with small fragments of exogenous DNA (400-800 bp) that are homologous to genomic sequences except for the desired modification. This approach has been effective for the in vitro modification of exon 10 in the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene in human airway epithelial cells. As another step in the development of SFHR for gene therapy, studies were carried out to target and modify specific genomic sequences in exon 10 of the mouse CFTR (mCFTR) in vivo. Small DNA fragments (783 bp), homologous to mCFTR except for a 3-bp deletion (DeltaF508) and a silent mutation which introduces a unique restriction site (KpnI), were instilled into the lungs of normal mice using four different DNA vehicles (AVE, LipofectAMINE, DDAB, SuperFect). Successful modification was determined by PCR amplification of DNA or mRNA-derived cDNA followed by KpnI digestion. The results of these studies showed that SFHR can be used as a gene therapy to introduce specific modifications into the cells of clinically affected organs and that the cells will express the new sequence.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A novel gene targeting strategy, small fragment homologous replacement (SFHR), has been used to correct specific genomic lesions in human epithelial cells. The frequency of targeting was estimated to be 1-10%. However, given the genomic target, the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, it is difficult to accurately quantify targeting frequency. As an alternative to targeting CFTR, targeted correction of a mutant selectable marker or reporter gene would be more amenable to accurate and rapid quantification of gene targeting efficiency. The present study evaluates the conditions that modulate SFHR-mediated correction of a defective Zeocin antibiotic resistance (Zeo(r)) gene that has been inactivated by a 4-bp insertion. The conditions include delivery systems, plasmid-to-fragment ratio, fragment length, and fragment strandedness (single- or double-stranded DNA). Targeting fragments comprise the wild-type Zeo(r) gene sequence and were either 410 (Zeo1) or 458 bp (Zeo3). Expression vectors containing the corrected Zeo(r) gene were isolated as episomal plasmids or were allowed to stably integrate into cultured human airway epithelial cells. Correction of the Zeo(r) gene was phenotypically defined as restoration of resistance to Zeocin in either bacteria or epithelial cell clones. Extrachromosomal gene correction was assayed using polymerase chain reaction amplification, restriction enzyme digestion, DNA sequencing, and Southern blot hybridization analysis of DNA from isolated prokaryotic and eukaryotic clones. Neither random sequence alteration in the target episomal gene nor random integration of the small fragments was detected. Targeted correction efficiencies of up to 4% were attained. These studies provide insight into parameters that can be modulated for the optimization of SFHR-mediated targeting.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The transfer of foreign genes into eukaryotic cells, in particular mammalian cells, has been essential to our understanding of the functional significance of genes and regulatory sequences as well as the development of gene therapy strategies. To this end, different mammalian expression vector systems have been designed. The choice of a particular expression system depends on the nature and purpose of the study and will involve selecting particular parameters of expression systems such as the type of promoter/enhancer sequences, the type of expression (transient versus stable) and the level of desired expression. In addition, the success of the study depends on efficient gene transfer. The purification of the expression vectors, as well as the transfer method, affects transfection efficiency. Numerous approaches have been developed to facilitate the transfer of genes into cells via physical, chemical or viral strategies. While these systems have all been effective in vitro they need to be optimized for individual cell types and, in particular, for in vivo transfection.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cellular uptake and distribution of cationic liposomes Dc-Chol/DOPECFTR gene complexes were assessed by electronic and confocal laser scanner microscopy (CLSM) for the CFTR gene transfer to human adenocarcinoma and tracheal epithelial cell lines. Cationic lipid forms unilamellar and multilamellar vesicles capable of rapid and efficient transport of gene into target cells. The number of fluorescent complexes was increasing with time in cells up to 6 hours showing a punctate and homogeneous DNA distribution in the cytoplasmatic and nuclear compartments, including the nucleolus. No significant difference in the biochemical and cellular behavior was observed between the investigated system and other systems previously tested. This study adds new insights into the CFTR cationic liposome-mediated gene delivery.
Biochemistry and molecular biology international 03/1999; 47(2):337-44.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We report the genomic organization, RNA and protein expression patterns of the gene encoding for the human homolog of the yeast ubiquitin fusion-degradation protein-1 (UFD1L). This enzyme is involved in a ubiquitin-dependent proteolytic pathway (UFD), firstly described in yeast. The human UFD1L gene is organized into 12 exons ranging in size from 33 to 161 bp. Sequence analysis of the 5'-flanking region of the gene revealed a high GC content, multiple CCAAT-binding motifs, CREB, CFT, and AP-2 sites. RNA transcripts were detected in all tissues and cell lines examined, including thymus, thymocytes, T- and B-cells, fibroblasts, chorionic villi, and amniocytes. In Western blot, the UFD1L antibody demonstrated the presence of multiple protein isoforms in all the tested tissues. Expression profile and promoter characteristics suggest UFD1L is a housekeeping gene with implications in the pathogenesis of DiGeorge/velo-cardio-facial syndrome, due to 22q11.2 deletions.
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 04/1998; 1396(2):158-62. · 4.66 Impact Factor