Cloning mammalian species from cell lines of adult animals has been demonstrated. Aside from its importance for cloning multiple copies of genetically valuable livestock, cloning now has the potential to salvage endangered or even extinct species. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the bovine and domestic (Ovis aries) ovine oocyte cytoplasm on the nucleus of an established cell line from an endangered argali wild sheep (Ovis ammon) after nuclear transplantation. A fibroblast cell line was established from skin biopsies from an adult argali ram from the People's Republic of China. Early karyotype analysis of cells between 3-6 passages revealed a normal diploid chromosome number of 56. The argali karyotype consisted of 2 pairs of biarmed and 25 pairs of acrocentric autosomes, a large acrocentric and minute biarmed Y. Bovine ovaries were collected from a local abattoir, oocytes aspirated, and immediately placed in maturation medium consisting of M-199 containing 10% fetal bovine serum, 100 IU/mL penicillin, 100 microg/mL streptomycin, 0.5 microg/mL follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), 5.0 microg/mL luetinizing hormone (LH) and 1.0 microg/mL estradiol. Ovine (O. aries) oocytes were collected at surgery 25 hours postonset of estrus from the oviducts of superovulated donor animals. All cultures were carried out at 39 degrees C in a humidified atmosphere of 5% CO2 and air. In vitro matured MII bovine oocytes were enucleated 16-20 hours after onset of maturation and ovine oocytes within 2-3 hours after collection. Enucleation was confirmed using Hoechst 33342 and UV light. The donor argali cells were synchronized in G0-G1 phase by culturing in Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium (DMEM) plus 0.5% fetal bovine serum for 5-10 days. Fusion of nuclear donor cell to an enucleated oocyte (cytoplast) to produce nuclear transfer (NT) embryos was induced by 2 electric pulses of 1.4 kV/cm for 30 microsc. Fused NT embryos were activated after 24 hours of maturation by exposure to ionomycin (5 microM, 4 minutes) followed by incubation in 6-dimethylaminopurine (0.2 mM, 4 hours) and cultured in microdrops of CR1aa medium. From a total of 166 constructed nuclear donor cell-bovine cytoplasm NT couples, 128 (77%) successfully fused, 100 (78%) developed to 8-16 cell stage, and 2 (1.56%) developed to the blastocyst stage. The presence of argali nuclei in 8-16 cell stage embryo clones was confirmed after observation of Hoechst 33342 stained embryos under UV light and chromosome analysis of metaphase spreads from blastomeres. A total of 127 constructed nuclear donor cell-ovine cytoplasm NT couples were produced, 101 (80%) successfully fused, 81 (80% of fused) developed to the 16- to 32-cell stage. A total of 28 hybrid (argali-sheep) and 21 sheep-sheep NT embryos were transferred into 6 recipients and 4 recipients, respectively. Two of these recipients, 1 carrying argali-sheep and 1 sheep-sheep, were confirmed pregnant at 49 days by ultrasound, but both pregnancies terminated by 59 days. The results of this study demonstrate the possibility of using xenogenic oocytes to produce early-stage embryos and pregnancies from an established fibroblast cell line of an endangered species.

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