This research was to study the in vitro and in vivo development of cloned embryos derived from adult rabbit fibroblasts following various activation protocols. Effects of serum starvation and passage number of donor cells on the efficiency of cloning were also examined. In experiment I, oocytes were activated either by electric pulses or by electric pulses followed by culture with 6-dimethylaminopurin (DMAP). For experiment II, the best activation protocol from experiment I was employed for cloning using adult rabbit fibroblasts that were cultured for 0–15 passages. In experiment III, the effect of serum starvation of the donor cells on cloning was examined. Finally, in experiment IV, embryo transfers were conducted. These experiments showed that combined electrical pulse and DMAP treatment resulted in superior parthenogenetic blastocyst development (up to 29%), and that activation of the cytoplast before versus after fusion was not different in supporting the in vitro development of nuclear transferred embryos (16%–18% blastocysts). Adult fibroblasts derived from nonpassaged cells were less capable of developing into blastocysts than passaged cells (6% vs. 17%). Serum starvation of donor cells improved cleavage (up to 71%) but did not improve blastocyst development (13%), and no progeny was obtained, irrespective of the treatment. Cell-cycle analysis of adult rabbit fibroblast cells showed that passage 6 and 12 cells were more likely to be in G0/G1 than passage 0 cells, which agrees with the improved embryo development in the passaged-cell groups.
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