[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Generally, transportation of preimplantation embryos without freezing requires incubators that can maintain an optimal culture environment with a suitable gas phase, temperature, and humidity. Such incubators are expensive to transport. We reported previously that normal offspring were obtained when the gas phase and temperature could be maintained during transportation. However, that system used plastic dishes for embryo culture and is unsuitable for long-distance transport of live embryos. Here, we developed a simple low-cost embryo transportation system. Instead of plastic dishes, several types of microtubes-usually used for molecular analysis-were tested for embryo culture. When they were washed and attached to a gas-permeable film, the rate of embryo development from the 1-cell to blastocyst stage was more than 90%. The quality of these blastocysts and the rate of full-term development after embryo transfer to recipient female mice were similar to those of a dish-cultured control group. Next, we developed a small warm box powered by a battery instead of mains power, which could maintain an optimal temperature for embryo development during transport. When 1-cell embryos derived from BDF1, C57BL/6, C3H/He and ICR mouse strains were transported by a parcel-delivery service over 3 days using microtubes and the box, they developed to blastocysts with rates similar to controls. After the embryos had been transferred into recipient female mice, healthy offspring were obtained without any losses except for the C3H/He strain. Thus, transport of mouse embryos is possible using this very simple method, which might prove useful in the field of reproductive medicine.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cellular plasticity is essential for early embryonic cells. Unlike pluripotent cells, which form embryonic tissues, totipotent cells can generate a complete organism including embryonic and extraembryonic tissues. Cells resembling 2-cell-stage embryos (2C-like cells) arise at very low frequency in embryonic stem (ES) cell cultures. Although induced reprogramming to pluripotency is well established, totipotent cells remain poorly characterized, and whether reprogramming to totipotency is possible is unknown. We show that mouse 2C-like cells can be induced in vitro through downregulation of the chromatin-assembly activity of CAF-1. Endogenous retroviruses and genes specific to 2-cell embryos are the highest-upregulated genes upon CAF-1 knockdown. Emerging 2C-like cells exhibit molecular characteristics of 2-cell embryos and higher reprogrammability than ES cells upon nuclear transfer. Our results suggest that early embryonic-like cells can be induced by modulating chromatin assembly and that atypical histone deposition may trigger the emergence of totipotent cells.
No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Nature Structural & Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Enucleation of a recipient oocyte is one of the key processes in the procedure of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). However, especially in bovine species, lipid droplets spreading in the ooplasm hamper identification and enucleation of metaphase II (MII) chromosomes, and thereby the success rate of the cloning remains low. In this study we used a new experimental system that enables fluorescent observation of chromosomes in living oocytes without any damage. We succeeded in visualizing and removing the MII chromosome in matured bovine oocytes. This experimental system consists of injecting fluorescence-labeled antibody conjugates that bind to chromosomes and fluorescent observation using a conventional halogen-lamp microscope. The cleavage rates and blastocyst rates of bovine embryos following in vitro fertilization (IVF) decreased as the concentration of the antibody increased (p<0.05). The enucleation rate of the conventional method (blind enucleation) was 86%, whereas all oocytes injected with the antibody conjugates were enucleated successfully. Fusion rates and developmental rates of SCNT embryos produced with the enucleated oocytes were the same as those of the blind enucleation group (p>0.05). For the production of SCNT embryos, the new system can be used as a reliable predictor of the location of metaphase plates in opaque oocytes, such as those in ruminant animals.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Whereas cloning mammals by direct somatic cell nuclear transfer has been successful using a wide range of donor cell types, neurons from adult brain remain "unclonable" for unknown reasons. Here we examined whether neurons from adult mice could be cloned, using a combination of two epigenetic approaches. First, we used a specific antibody to discover cell types with reduced amounts of a repressive histone mark--dimethylated histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9me2)--and identified CA1 pyramidal cells in the hippocampus and Purkinje cells in the cerebellum as candidates. Second, reconstructed embryos were treated with trichostatin A (TSA), a potent histone deacetylase inhibitor. Using CA1 cells, cloned offspring were obtained at high rates, reaching 10.2% and 4.6% (per embryos transferred) for male and female donors, respectively. Cerebellar Purkinje cell nuclei were too large to maintain their genetic integrity during nuclear transfer, leading to developmental arrest of embryos. However, gene expression analysis using cloned blastocysts corroborated a high rate of genomic reprogrammability of CA1 pyramidal and Purkinje cells. Neurons from the hippocampal dentate gyrus and cerebral cortex, which had higher amounts of H3K9me2, could also be used for producing cloned offspring, but the efficiencies were low. A more thorough analysis revealed that TSA treatment was essential for cloning adult neuronal cells. This study demonstrated for the first time that adult neurons could be cloned by nuclear transfer. Furthermore, our data imply that reduced amounts of H3K9me2 and increased histone acetylation appear to act synergistically to improve the development of cloned embryos.
Copyright 2015 by The Society for the Study of Reproduction.
Preview · Article · Feb 2015 · Biology of Reproduction
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In mammals, VDJ recombination is responsible for the establishment of a highly diversified preimmune antibody repertoire. Acquisition of a functional Ig heavy (H) chain variable (V) gene rearrangement is thought to prevent further recombination at the IgH locus. Here, we describe VHQ52(NT); Vκgr32(NT) Ig monoclonal mice reprogrammed from the nucleus of an intestinal IgA(+) plasma cell. In VHQ52(NT) mice, IgA replaced IgM to drive early B-cell development and peripheral B-cell maturation. In VHQ52(NT) animals, over 20% of mature B cells disrupted the single productive, nonautoimmune IgH rearrangement through VH replacement and exchanged it with a highly diversified pool of IgH specificities. VH replacement occurred in early pro-B cells, was independent of pre-B-cell receptor signaling, and involved predominantly one adjacent VH germ-line gene. VH replacement was also identified in 5% of peripheral B cells of mice inheriting a different productive VH rearrangement expressed in the form of an IgM H chain. In summary, editing of a productive IgH rearrangement through VH replacement can account for up to 20% of the IgH repertoire expressed by mature B cells.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2015 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The successful production of cloned animals by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) is a promising technology with many potential applications in basic research, medicine, and agriculture. However, the low efficiency and the difficulty of cloning are major obstacles to the widespread use of this technology. Since the first mammal cloned from an adult donor cell was born, many attempts have been made to improve animal cloning techniques, and some approaches have successfully improved its efficiency. Nuclear transfer itself is still difficult because it requires an accomplished operator with a practiced technique. Thus, it is very important to find simple and reproducible methods for improving the success rate of SCNT. In this chapter, we will review our recent protocols, which seem to be the simplest and most reliable method to date to improve development of SCNT embryos.
No preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Methods in Molecular Biology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The large, compact oocyte nucleoli, sometimes referred to as nucleolus precursor bodies (NPBs), are essential for embryonic development in mammals; in their absence, the oocytes complete maturation and can be fertilized, but no nucleoli are formed in the zygote or embryo, leading to developmental failure. It has been convincingly documented that zygotes inherit the oocyte nucleolar material and form NPBs again in pronuclei. It is commonly accepted that during early embryonic development, the original compact zygote NPBs gradually transform into reticulated nucleoli of somatic cells. Here, we show that zygote NPBs are not required for embryonic and full-term development in the mouse. When NPBs were removed from late-stage zygotes by micromanipulation, the enucleolated zygotes developed to the blastocyst stage and, after transfer to recipients, live pups were obtained. We also describe de novo formation of nucleoli in developing embryos. After removal of NPBs from zygotes, they formed new nucleoli after several divisions. These results indicate that the zygote NPBs are not used in embryonic development and that the nucleoli in developing embryos originate from de novo synthesized materials.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transchromosomic (Tc) technology using human chromosome fragments (hCFs), or human artificial chromosomes (HACs), has been used for generating mice containing Mb-sized segments of the human genome. The most significant problem with freely segregating chromosomes with human centromeres has been mosaicism, possibly due to the instability of hCFs or HACs in mice. We report a system for the stable maintenance of Mb-sized human chromosomal fragments following translocation to mouse chromosome 10 (mChr.10). The approach utilizes microcell-mediated chromosome transfer and a combination of site-specific loxP insertion, telomere-directed chromosome truncation, and precise reciprocal translocation for the generation of Tc mice. Human chromosome 21 (hChr.21) was modified with a loxP site and truncated in homologous recombination-proficient chicken DT40 cells. Following transfer to mouse embryonic stem cells harboring a loxP site at the distal region of mChr.10, a ~4 Mb segment of hChr.21 was translocated to the distal region of mChr.10 by transient expression of Cre recombinase. The residual hChr.21/mChr.10ter fragment was reduced by antibiotic negative selection. Tc mice harboring the translocated ~4 Mb fragment were generated by chimera formation and germ line transmission. The hChr.21-derived Mb fragment was maintained stably in tissues in vivo and expression profiles of genes on hChr.21 were consistent with those seen in humans. Thus, Tc technology that enables translocation of human chromosomal regions onto host mouse chromosomes will be useful for studying in vivo functions of the human genome, and generating humanized model mice.
No preview · Article · Feb 2014 · Transgenic Research
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Here we report a unique cellular reprogramming phenomenon, called stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP), which requires neither nuclear transfer nor the introduction of transcription factors. In STAP, strong external stimuli such as a transient low-pH stressor reprogrammed mammalian somatic cells, resulting in the generation of pluripotent cells. Through real-time imaging of STAP cells derived from purified lymphocytes, as well as gene rearrangement analysis, we found that committed somatic cells give rise to STAP cells by reprogramming rather than selection. STAP cells showed a substantial decrease in DNA methylation in the regulatory regions of pluripotency marker genes. Blastocyst injection showed that STAP cells efficiently contribute to chimaeric embryos and to offspring via germline transmission. We also demonstrate the derivation of robustly expandable pluripotent cell lines from STAP cells. Thus, our findings indicate that epigenetic fate determination of mammalian cells can be markedly converted in a context-dependent manner by strong environmental cues.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We recently discovered an unexpected phenomenon of somatic cell reprogramming into pluripotent cells by exposure to sublethal stimuli, which we call stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP). This reprogramming does not require nuclear transfer or genetic manipulation. Here we report that reprogrammed STAP cells, unlike embryonic stem (ES) cells, can contribute to both embryonic and placental tissues, as seen in a blastocyst injection assay. Mouse STAP cells lose the ability to contribute to the placenta as well as trophoblast marker expression on converting into ES-like stem cells by treatment with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF). In contrast, when cultured with Fgf4, STAP cells give rise to proliferative stem cells with enhanced trophoblastic characteristics. Notably, unlike conventional trophoblast stem cells, the Fgf4-induced stem cells from STAP cells contribute to both embryonic and placental tissues in vivo and transform into ES-like cells when cultured with LIF-containing medium. Taken together, the developmental potential of STAP cells, shown by chimaera formation and in vitro cell conversion, indicates that they represent a unique state of pluripotency.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cloning efficiency in mammals is still low, especially in mice. Moreover, many abnormalities in cloned mice have been reported. Such low efficiency and high abnormalities notwithstanding, the success in generating clones in the mouse has opened new avenues of investigation because of its short generation period, low cost, and small size, and the relatively good understanding of mouse developmental biology compared with farm animals. Recently, the success rate of mouse cloning has been improved by technical and epigenetic improvements during nuclear transfer (NT) procedures. On the other hand, NT techniques can be applied to establish embryonic stem (ES) cell lines from somatic cells (ntES cells). To generate cloned animals from supposedly "unclonable" individuals, ntES cell lines can be used in a second round of NT as nuclear donors. Using this combination technique, cloned offspring can potentially be generated even from the nuclei of frozen cadavers, such as those of extinct animals. This chapter attempts to describe the history of mouse cloning, abnormalities of cloned mice, efforts to improve the efficiency of mouse cloning, and features of ntES cell technology for basic study.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We recently developed the hollow fibro vitrification (HFV) method, which is a novel, high-performance embryo cryopreservation method (Matsunari et al., 2012). In this study, we aimed to verify the applicability of the HFV method for cryopreserving various types of embryos; BDF1 mouse embryos at the 2-cell stage, porcine parthenogenetic morulae derived from in vitro-matured oocytes, bovine morulae produced by in vitro maturation/fertilization (LIAJ Animal Biotechnology Center, Tokyo, Japan), and in vivo-derived blastocysts of common marmosets were vitrified, and their survival was assessed by culture or transfer. The embryos were vitrified using 20mM HEPES-buffered TCM-199 containing 20% calf serum as a base medium. Cellulose acetate hollow fibres (25mm) containing 1 to 20 embryos were placed in an equilibration solution containing 7.5% ethylene glycol (EG) and 7.5% dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) for 5 to 7min, followed by incubation for 1min in vitrification solution containing 15% EG, 15% DMSO, and 0.5M sucrose. The embryos were then vitrified by immersion in LN. The embryos were devitrified by immersing the hollow fibre in a 1M sucrose solution at 38.5°C, which was followed by stepwise dilution of the cryoprotectants and washing. For a subset of the vitrified mouse embryos, rewarming in a non-ultra-rapid manner by melting a hollow fibre in air at room temperature for 5s was tested. Embryo transfer was performed to assess the viability of the vitrified mouse embryos. For porcine embryos, vitrification in LN vapor (-150°C) was tested. Development of the vitrified mouse embryos to blastocysts was equal to that of the non-vitrified embryos [105/110 (95.5%) v. 109/110 (99.1%)]. Post-transfer development to fetuses was also equal between the vitrified and non-vitrified embryos [pregnancy rates: 4/4 v. 2/2; developmental rates: 55/80 (68.8%) v. 35/40 (87.5%)]. Non-ultra-rapid rewarming did not decrease the survival of the vitrified mouse embryos [blastocysts: 94/100 (94.0%); pregnancy: 4/4; fetuses: 55/80 (68.8%)]. Blastocyst formation was equivalent for vitrification of porcine embryos in LN vapor [27/34 (79.4%)], direct immersion into LN [28/35 (80.0%)], and the non-vitrified control [31/32 (96.9%)]. Vitrification of 191 bovine morulae resulted in 153 (80.1%) blastocysts. In preliminary experiments, survival of marmoset blastocysts was 100% (n=6). These data demonstrate that the HFV method is (1) effective for embryos of various species and production methods; (2) effective even for porcine in vitro-derived morulae, which are highly cryosensitive; and (3) amenable to modifications such as non-ultra-rapid warming and cooling in LN vapor, increasing the potential applicability of the HFV method. For instance, vitrification in LN vapor may allow embryo cryopreservation with high hygienic standards.
No preview · Article · Dec 2013 · Reproduction Fertility and Development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Somatic cell nuclear transfer to an enucleated oocyte is used for reprogramming somatic cells with the aim of achieving totipotency, but most cloned embryos die in the uterus after transfer. While modifying epigenetic states of cloned embryos can improve their development, the production rate of cloned embryos can also be enhanced by changing other factors. It has already been shown that abnormal chromosome segregation (ACS) is a major cause of the developmental failure of cloned embryos and that Latrunculin A (LatA), an actin polymerization inhibitor, improves F-actin formation and birth rate of cloned embryos. Since F-actin is important for chromosome congression in embryos, here we examined the relation between ACS and F-actin in cloned embryos. Using LatA treatment, the occurrence of ACS decreased significantly whereas cloned embryo-specific epigenetic abnormalities such as dimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3K9me2) could not be corrected. In contrast, when H3K9me2 was normalized using the G9a histone methyltransferase inhibitor BIX-01294, the Magea2 gene-essential for normal development but never before expressed in cloned embryos-was expressed. However, this did not increase the cloning success rate. Thus, non-epigenetic factors also play an important role in determining the efficiency of mouse cloning.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sox2 is a transcription factor required for the maintenance of pluripotency. It also plays an essential role in different types of multipotent stem cells, raising the possibility that Sox2 governs the common stemness phenotype. Here we show that Sox2 is a critical downstream target of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling, which mediates self-renewal of trophoblast stem cells (TSCs). Sustained expression of Sox2 together with Esrrb or Tfap2c can replace FGF dependency. By comparing genome-wide binding sites of Sox2 in embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and TSCs combined with inducible knockout systems, we found that, despite the common role in safeguarding the stem cell state, Sox2 regulates distinct sets of genes with unique functions in these two different yet developmentally related types of stem cells. Our findings provide insights into the functional versatility of transcription factors during embryogenesis, during which they can be recursively utilized in a variable manner within discrete network structures.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since the first cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, the success rates of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) have been extremely low. This inefficiency has been limiting practical applications of SCNT. In the past decade, many trials aimed to enhance SCNT have led to the development of new modified SCNT methods, resulting in an increased success rate. These trials can be mainly divided into four types: type 1, improvement by optimizing SCNT protocols in each condition such as the methods of oocyte activation; type 2, improvement by modified donor cell preparation, including optimization of the cell cycle; type 3, improvement by chemical treatment of reconstructed oocytes; and type 4, improvement by gene manipulation of donor cells.In 2006, treatment of SCNT embryos with trichostatin A (TSA), a histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi), was found to improve significantly the development of SCNT embryos in mice; this was the first example of success (of type 3) using chromatin remodeling agents. Since then, a variety of modified SCNT protocols with HDACs have been examined in many species. Thus, the success of significant improvement in SCNT with HDACi has not only contributed to development of new method of SCNT, but also provided a lot of insights into nuclear reprogramming. In this chapter, we review recent advances in modified SCNT methods using chemical agents for chromatin remodeling, focusing particularly on modified SCNT with HDACi in mice.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In mammals, a diploid genome following fertilization of haploid cells, an egg, and a spermatozoon is unique and irreproducible. This implies that the generated unique diploid genome is doomed with the individual's inevitable demise. Since it was first reported in 1997 that Dolly the sheep had been cloned, many mammalian species have been cloned successfully using somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). The success of SCNT in mammals enables us not only to reproduce offspring without germ cells, that is, to "passage" a unique diploid genome, but also to address valuable biological questions on development, nuclear reprogramming, and epigenetic memory. Successful cloning can also support epigenetic reprogramming where the aging clock is reset or reversed. Recent work using iPS cell technology has explored the practicality and led to the recapitulation of premature aging with iPSCs from progeroid laminopathies. As a result, reprogramming tools are also expected to contribute to studying biological age. However, the efficiency of animal cloning is still low in most cases and the mechanism of reprogramming in cloned embryos is still largely unclear. Here, based on recent advances, we describe an improved, more efficient mouse cloning protocol using histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis) and latrunculin A, which increases the success rates of producing cloned mice or establishing ES cells fivefold. This improved method of cloning will provide a strong tool to address many issues including biological aging more easily and with lower cost.
No preview · Article · Aug 2013 · Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)