Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology

26 Drugs that Modify Epigenetics…What do they do to Porcine Clones?

C. P. Buemo A , A. Gambini A , L. N. Moro A , N. Canel A and D. F. Salamone A
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Animal Biotechnology Laboratory, Agronomy Faculty, University of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 30(1) 152-153
Published: 4 December 2017


Although somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technology was developed more than 20 years ago, cloning efficiency remains low. Failures in the reprogramming of the donor cell result in embryos with aberrant epigenetic patterns and low developmental rates. In this study, we assessed whether the use the inhibitor of DNA (cytosine 5) methyltransferase 5-azacitidine (5Aza) combined with the MEK inhibitor in the MAPK pathway PD0325901 (PD) could improve SCNT efficiency in pigs. In vitro maturation of cumulus–oocyte complexes was performed in TCM for 44 h at 39°C under 5% CO2. Cumulus cells and zona pellucida was removed from matured oocytes, followed by enucleation of the metaphase plate previously stained with Hoëchst 33342. Each enucleated oocyte was attached to a donor cell by phytohemagglutinin treatment followed by an electric pulse of 80V for 30 μs. After fusion, reconstituted embryos were activated by an electric pulse followed by an incubation in 2 mM 6-DMAP for 3 h. Cloned embryos were cultured in vitro in a modified well-of-well system in SOF medium, where 3 cloned embryos were placed per microwell (3X). The experimental group 3X + drugs was exposed for the first 3 days to 1 μM PD and 1 μM 5Aza in SOF medium. After washing, embryos were cultured until Day 7 in regular SOF medium. The control group (3X) was cultured in regular SOF medium for 7 days. In vitro embryo developmental rates, gene expression, histone acetylation, and DNA methylation status were studied. The use of epigenetic modifying drugs significantly increased blastocyst rates (40.9% v. 29%; Fisher’s test, P < 0.05) and embryo size (41.46% v. 28.56%; Student’s t-test, P < 0.05) compared with the control group. Regarding gene expression, an increase of the relative expression of genes related to cell differentiation (Igf2 and Cdx2), antiapoptotic pathways (Bcl-xl) and DNA methylation modulation (Mapk1) was observed (P < 0.05). Pluripotency genes Oct4 and Nanog did not show differences between groups. The Bax proapoptotic gene significantly decreased its expression after drug treatment, as did the Klf4 gene (P < 0.05). Results were analysed by Student’s t-test. According to Histone H3K27ac, which is associated with enhancers or gene promoters, its marker was located mainly in the nuclear periphery respect to the control group with a uniform dispersion, indicating that the treatment could be activating certain genes by locating them near the periphery. Histone H3K4me1 was more uniformly localised throughout the nucleus in both groups. The intensity of the fluorescence was measured by quantitative confocal microscopy using a histogram produced by the ImageJ program (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA). Regarding DNA methylation by bisulphite sequencing, the 2 genes studied (Oct4 and DNMT1) showed a higher demethylation status for the treated group. Our results indicate that the combination of 5Aza+PD during early pre-implantation development dramatically increase blastocyst rates and embryo quality. This novel combination could be used as a strategy to improve the efficiency of SCNT in pigs and potentially other animals.

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