Histone acetylation profile of porcine embryos produced by 2 cloning methods with or without in-vitro culture
Conventional “Dolly”-based cloned (CNT) embryos maintain zona pellucida and can be transferred early in development. Handmade cloned (HMC) embryos are zona free and are cultured to later stages for transfer. We have shown differences between HMC and CNT embryos (Rep. Fert. Dev. 26, 123), and both in vitro culture and cloning method (NT) are associated with alterations in histone acetylation. More studies are needed to clarify whether CNT and HMC embryos differ in epigenetic profiles due to NT method or culture condition. Here we investigated histone acetylation profile of NT embryos produced by CNT or HMC with or without 5 to 6 days in vitro culture, emphasising quality and gene expression in resulting embryos. Both NT methods were performed on Day 0 (D0) with same oocyte batch, donor cells, and culture medium (CNT in group, HMC in well of well). On D0, 5, and 6 after CNT (Clon. Stem Cells 10, 355) or HMC (Zygote 20, 61), all developed embryos of all morphological qualities were collected for immunostaining of H3K18ac, and on D0 and 6 for mRNA expression of the genes KAT2A/2B, EP300, HDAC1/2, DNMT1o/s, and GAPDH. Embryo quality was evaluated normal (clear inner cell mass, high cell number, no fragments) or bad (no clear inner cell mass, low cell number, fragments). Cell numbers per blastocyst were counted on D5 and 6. Differences in cell number and H3K18ac level between different groups and days were analysed by ANOVA; gene expression data were analysed by GLM (SAS version 9.3, SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA). Embryo development rates of both NT methods were reported previously (Rep. Fert. Dev. 26, 123). On D5 and 6, all HMC embryos were evaluated as normal, but the CNT group contained both normal and bad embryos. Regarding cell numbers (Table 1), on D5 there was no difference between normal CNT and HMC embryos, but numbers were lower in CNT bad embryos. On D6 the blastocyst cell number was lower in both normal and bad CNT embryos compared with HMC. Regarding H3K18ac levels (Table 1), no differences were found on D5 between normal CNT and HMC embryos, but on D6 both CNT normal and bad embryos had higher H3K18ac level compared with HMC. On D0, no difference was found in mRNA expression of all 8 genes. On D6, KAT2A expression was slight increased (1.8-fold) in CNT compared with HMC embryos (P < 0.05). In conclusion, no differences were found between CNT and HMC embryos after completed NT procedure (D0) or after 5 days in vitro culture. However, differences in quality (cell number and H3K18ac) and gene expression between the 2 NT methods were observed when blastocyst expansion was initiated (D6). Thus, the 2 NT methods seem to produce embryos of similar quality, which is maintained over 5 days in vitro culture, but thereafter gene expression and histone acetylation are more active in CNT embryos.