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Effective activation of a recipient oocyte and its compatibility with the nuclear donor are critical to the successful nuclear reprogramming during nuclear transfer. We designed a series of experiments using various activation methods to determine the optimum activation efficiency of bovine oocytes. We then performed nuclear transfer (NT) of embryonic and somatic cells into cytoplasts presumably at G1/S phase (with prior activation) or at metaphase II (MII, without prior activation). Oocytes at 24 hr of maturation in vitro were activated with various combinations of calcium ionophore A23187 (A187) (5 microM, 5 min), electric pulse (EP), ethanol (7%, 7 min), cycloheximide (CHX) (10 micro g/ml, 6 hr), and then cultured in cytochalasin D (CD) for a total of 18 hr. Through a series of experiments (Exp. 1-4), an improved activation protocol (A187/EP/CHX/CD) was identified and used for comparison of NT efficiency of embryonic versus somatic donor cells (Exp. 5). When embryonic cells from morula and blastocysts (BL) were used as nuclear donors, a significantly higher rate of blastocyst development from cloned embryos was obtained with G1/S phase cytoplasts than with MII-phase cytoplasts (36 vs. 11%, P < 0.05). In contrast, when skin fibroblasts were used as donor cells, the use of an MII cytoplast (vs. G1/S phase) was imperative for blastocyst development (30 vs. 6%, P < 0.05). Differential staining showed that parthenogenetic, embryonic, and somatic cloned BL contained 26, 29, and 33% presumptive inner cell mass (ICM) cells, respectively, which is similar to that of frozen-thawed in vivo embryos at a comparable developmental stage (23%). These data indicate that embryonic and somatic nuclei require different recipient cytoplast environment for remodeling/ reprogramming, and this is likely due to the different cell cycle stage and profiles of molecular differentiation of the transferred donor nuclei.


Published in Molecular Reproduction and Development, Vol.63, Issue 2, pp.183-191 (October 2002).
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