Recently, we generated cloned transgenic pigs by nuclear transfer (NT) using fetal fibroblasts transfected with a LEA29Y gene specifically expressed in pancreatic β-cells (INS-LEA). Transfer of 216 NT embryos into 3 recipients resulted in the birth of 9 piglets. Furthermore, we examined serial NT with donor cells of the INS-LEA cloned pigs as a means of propagating the genotype of these valuable animals. Surprisingly, no piglets were obtained after transfer of 512 NT embryos into 5 recipients, which might be due to epigenetic alterations that presumably occurred during post-implantation development of the first round cloned embryos or during nuclear reprogramming in the second round of NT. In this study we tested whether in vitro development of re-cloned embryos can be improved by their treatment with histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi), scriptaid and suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA). As nuclear donors, ear fibroblast cells derived from the INS-LEA cloned pig were used. Nuclear transfer was performed using in vitro-matured oocytes as previously reported (Kurome et al. 2006, Transgenic Res. 15, 229–240). After activation, reconstructed embryos were treated immediately by scriptaid (500 nM) and SAHA (10 μM) for 16 and 10 h, respectively. Development of NT embryos was assessed by cleavage and blastocyst formation during culture for 7 days. The cell number of blastocysts was also counted after fixation and staining. There was no significant difference in the cleavage rate between treated and non-treated by both HDACi, whereas treatment of NT embryos with scriptaid or SAHA significantly enhanced their development to blastocyst compared with non-treated NT embryos (22.2%, 43/194 and 22.7%, 34/150 vs 7.7%, 15/195 and 12.3%, 18/146, respectively; P < 0.05). Notably, blastocyst rates obtained after treatment of re-cloned embryos with HDACi were similar to those in the first round of NT (21.2%, 33/156). Treatment of NT embryos with HDACi did not increase mean cell number of blastocysts compared with non-treated embryos. The results of our study show that in vitro developmental competence of embryos produced by serial NT can be improved by both HDACi used, scriptaid as well as SAHA, which has not been reported before in pig cloning. To determine the post-implantation developmental potential, re-cloned embryos treated with HDACi will be transferred to surrogate gilts.
This work is supported by the DFG (FOR535, FOR793), the Bayerische Forschungsstiftung and Mukoviszidose e.V.