Cellular reprogramming

Efficient production and cellular characterization of sheep androgenetic embryos.

PMID 22043807


The production of androgenetic embryos in large animals is a complex procedure. Androgenetic embryos have been produced so far only in cattle and sheep using pronuclear transfer (PT) between zygotes derived from in vitro fertilization (IVF) of previously enucleated oocytes. PT is required due to the poor developmental potential of androgenotes derived from IVF of enucleated oocytes. Here we compare the developemt to blastocyst of androgenetic embryos produced by the standard pronuclear transfer and by fertilization of oocytes enucleated in Ca2+/Mg2+-free medium, without pronuclear transfer. The enucleation in Ca2+/Mg2+-free medium abolished almost completely the manipulation-induced activation, significantly improving the development to blastocyst of the androgenetic embryos (IVF followed by PT; 18.6%: IVF only; 17.7%, respectively). Karyotype analysis of IVF revealed a similar proportion of diploid embryos in androgenetic and control blastocysts (35% and 36%, respectively), although mixoploid blastocysts were frequently observed in both groups (64%). Androgenotes had lower total cell numbers than control and parthenogenetic embryos, but more cells in ICM cells comparing to parthenogenotes (30.42 vs. 17.15%). Higher expression of the pluripotency-associated gene NANOG, and trophoblastic-specific gene CDX2, were also observed in androgenotes compared to parthenogenotes and controls. The global methytion profile of androgenetic embryos was comparable to controls, but was lower than parthenogenetic embryos. The cell composition and methylation pattern we have detected in monoparental sheep monoparental embryos are unprecedented, and differ considerably from the standard reference mouse embryos. Altogether, these finding indicate significant differences across species in the molecular mechanisms regulating early development of monoparental embryos, and highlights the need to study postimplantation development of androgenetic embryos in sheep.