In vitro transfection of cultured cells combined with nuclear transfer currently is the most effective procedure to produce transgenic livestock. In the present study, bovine primary fetal fibroblasts were transfected with a green fluorescent protein (GFP)-reporter transgene and used as nuclear donor cells in oocyte reconstructions. Because cell synchronization protocols are less effective after transfection, activated oocytes may be more suitable as hosts for nuclear transfer. To examine the role of host cytoplasm on transgene expression and developmental outcome, GFP-expressing fibroblasts were fused to oocytes reconstructed either before (metaphase) or after (telophase) activation. Expression of GFP was examined during early embryogenesis, in tissues of cloned calves, and again during embryogenesis, after passage through germ line using semen from the transgenic cloned offspring. Regardless of the kind of host cytoplasm used, GFP became detectable at the 8- to 16-cell stage, approximately 80 h after reconstruction, and remained positive at all later stages. After birth, although cloned calves obtained through both procedures expressed GFP in all tissues examined, expression levels varied both between tissues and between cells within the same tissue, indicating a partial shutdown of GFP expression during cellular differentiation. Moreover, nonexpressing fibroblasts derived from transgenic offspring were unable to direct GFP expression after nuclear transfer and development to the blastocyst stage, suggesting an irreversible silencing of transgenes. Nonetheless, GFP was expressed in approximately half the blastocysts obtained with sperm from a transgenic clone, confirming transmission of the transgene through the germ line.
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