18 Developmental competence of cloned porcine embryos produced with different cloning procedures
Two nuclear transfer (NT) techniques are routinely used to produce cloned animals, traditional cloning (TC) and handmade cloning (HMC). The TC embryos keep their zona and can be transferred at early stages, whereas HMC embryos are zona-free and must be cultured to the morula/blastocyst stage before transfer. Some studies have shown that in vitro culture reduces embryo development and quality, but it is not known whether embryos produced by TC or HMC differ because of the NT method or the in vitro culture. Therefore, we investigated the developmental competence and histone acetylation (H3K18ac) of porcine NT embryos produced by TC and HMC with (Day 5 and 6) or without (Day 0) in vitro culture. Nuclear transfer experiments were performed on same day (Day 0), using same batch of porcine oocytes and donor cells and same in vitro culture conditions. Cloning procedures were previously described (TC : Cloning Stem Cells 10 : 355; HMC : Zygote 20 : 61). Parthenogenetically activated embryos (PA) were used as control of activation and culture conditions. Embryos from all groups were collected for immunostaining of H3K18ac on Days 0, 5, and 6. The normalized H3K18ac level was calculated as previously described (Epigenetics 6 : 177). Cell numbers per blastocyst in each group were counted on Days 5 and 6. The cleavage rate (Day 2) and blastocyst rates (Days 5 and 6) between groups were analysed by Chi-squared test, whereas cell number per blastocysts and H3K18ac level between groups and days were analysed by ANOVA (SAS version 9.2; SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA). Cleavage rate of HMC embryos was lower than that of TC embryos, but blastocyst rate and cell number per blastocyst were higher in the HMC group compared with TC (Table 1). Differences of H3K18ac level between HMC, TC, and PA groups were only observed on Day 6 but not on Day 0 or Day 5. Within HMC and TC groups, there was no difference in H3K18ac level between Day 0 and Day 5, but the level was lower on Day 6 compared with Day 5 in the HMC group, whereas the TC group displayed the opposite pattern. In conclusion, NT embryos produced by HMC show higher blastocyst rate and cell number per blastocyst compared with TC embryos. Both in vitro culture and the NT method result in differences of the normalized H3K18ac levels. Further study is needed to investigate putative differences between NT embryos produced by HMC and TC compared to in vivo embryos also after transfer to recipients.