Chicken oviductal epithelium produces large quantities of egg white protein in daily cycles. In this study, we cultured and characterized oviductal epithelial cells (OECs) from juvenile (10-wk-old) chickens and from actively laying (30-wk-old) hens. The juvenile OECs were maintained over passage 25 and were positive for toluidine blue, lectin-ConA, HPA, UEA-1, WFA, WGA, anti-OVA, anti-ESR1, and anti-PGR, whereas the adult OECs were cultured over passage 6 and were positive for toluidine blue, periodic acid-Schiff, lectin-ConA, WFA, WGA, anti-OVA, anti-ESR1, and anti-PGR. To investigate the optimal concentration of steroid hormones for inducing egg white protein genes in vitro, we examined the effects of estrogen, diethylstilbestrol, progesterone, and corticosterone on OECs. Results showed that oviduct-specific levels of avidin, ovalbumin, ovomucin, lysozyme, ESR1, and PGR gene expression were significantly elevated in steroid hormone-treated OECs compared with those of untreated cells (P < 0.05). Ovalbumin protein was also secreted into culture medium from hormone‐treated OECs. In addition, to examine the application of OECs for avian transgenesis, we introduced human thrombopoietin (THPO)-expressing lentiviral vector controlled by a 3.5-kb ovalbumin promoter into cultured OECs, and THPO expression was significantly induced with diethylstilbestrol or progesterone in juvenile OECs (P < 0.05) and in adult OECs (P < 0.05). In conclusion, these data demonstrate the potential of cultured OECs as a model system for providing a better understanding of the regulation of gene expression and for the production of an avian transgenic bioreactor.
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Vol. 85 • No. 4