The successful production of embryos by nuclear transfer (NT) employing cultured somatic donor cells depends upon a variety of factors. The objective of the present study was to investigate the effects 1) of two different activation protocols, 2) the use of quiescent or nonquiescent donor cells (G0 or G1 of the cell cycle), and 3) passage number of donor cells on the relative abundance (RA) of eight specific mRNAs (DNA methyltransferase, DNMT; mammalian achaete-scute homologue, Mash2; glucose transporter-1, Glut-1; heat shock protein 70.1, Hsp; desmocollin II, Dc II; E-cadherin, E-cad; interferon tau, IF; insulin-like growth factor 2 receptor, Igf2r) in single blastocysts employing a semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assay. The results were compared with those for their in vitro (IVP)- and in vivo-generated noncloned counterparts. In experiment 1, employing either FBA (fusion before activation) or AFS (fusion and activation simultaneously) to generate NT blastocysts, Hsp mRNAs were not found in NT embryos from either protocol, whereas Hsp transcripts were detectable in IVP embryos. The relative abundance (RA) of IF transcripts was significantly increased in the AFS and IVP groups compared to the FBA treatment. In experiment 2, the use of either G0 or G1 donor cells to produce cloned embryos both significantly reduced the relative amount of DNMT transcripts and significantly increased the RA of Mash2 compared to the IVP embryos. In addition, IF transcript levels were significantly elevated in NT blastocysts employing G1 donor cells for NT compared to IVP embryos and those generated using G0 cells. In experiment 3, donor cells, either from passsage 5/6 or 8, were employed for NT. DNMT transcripts were significantly decreased, whereas Mash2 transcripts were significantly increased in both NT groups compared to their IVP counterparts. The amount of IF mRNA was significantly higher in P8-derived than in P5/6 and IVP embryos. In experiment 4, the RA of DNMT transcripts was decreased in in vivo-derived blastocysts compared to those produced in vitro. Mash2 expression was increased in in vivo embryos and those IVP embryos produced in medium containing Sigma BSA. The RA of Hsp was higher in IVP embryos produced in serum containing medium than in those produced in Sigma BSA or in vivo. In vivo embryos and those produced in Life Technologies BSA had the lowest expression of IF transcripts. Expression of all other genes was not affected by variation in NT methodology or IVP culture systems throughout experiments 1–4. In conclusion, depending on steps of the cloning procedure NT-derived embryos display marked differences from their IVP- and in vivo-derived counterparts. An aberrant expression pattern in NT embryos was found with respect to genes thought to be involved in stress adaptation, trophoblastic function, and DNA methylation during preimplantation development.
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