Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Embryo aggregation allows the production of kodkod (Leopardus guigna) blastocysts after interspecific SCNT.

Abstract

The kodkod (Leopardus guigna) is a small felid endemic of Chile and is considered a vulnerable species. Domestic cat oocytes have been successfully used as recipient cytoplast to reprogram somatic cells from different felids by interspecific somatic cell nuclear transfer (iSCNT). The developmental competence of felid embryos generated by iSCNT can be improved by the aggregation method using a zona-free culture system. The objective of this research was to evaluate the developmental competence of kodkod embryos generated by iSCNT using domestic cat oocytes and the aggregation method. For this purpose, five experimental group were done: (1) cat embryos generated by IVF, (2) cat embryos generated by SCNT (Ca1x), (3) aggregated cat embryos generated by SCNT (Ca2x), (4) kodkod embryos generated by iSCNT (K1x) and (5) aggregated kodkod embryos generated by iSCNT (K2x). Cleavage, morulae and blastocyst rates were estimated. The blastocyst diameter was evaluated. The gene expression level of pluripotency (OCT4, SOX2 and NANOG) and differentiation markers (CDX2 and GATA6) was analyzed in blastocysts. Morulae rate was higher in the IVF group and when cloned embryos were cultured in aggregates (IVF: 68.2%, Ca2x: 58.0% and K2x: 62.4%) compared to individually cultured kodkod embryos (K1x: 37.0%) (P < 0.05). Embryo aggregation increased blastocysts formation in the Ca2x group (30.9%) to a similar rate compared to the IVF group (44.5%) (P > 0.05). No blastocysts were generated in the K1x group, whereas blastocysts formation was obtained in K2x group (5.9%). The diameter of blastocysts from the K2x group (172.8 μm) was significantly lower than blastocysts from the Ca2x group (P < 0.05). The relative expression of OCT4 was lower in blastocysts from Ca1x than in blastocysts from IVF (P < 0.05). Furthermore, CDX2 expression was lower in blastocysts from Ca2x than in blastocysts from Ca1x and IVF groups (P < 0.05). In kodkod embryos, only one blastocyst from the K2x group expressed OCT4. No expression of SOX2, NANOG, CDX2 and GATA6 was detected in kodkod blastocysts. In conclusion, after iSCNT, domestic cat oocytes support the development of kodkod embryos until the morula stage. The aggregation method increases the morulae rate of kodkod cloned embryos and allows blastocysts formation. However, kodkod blastocysts have a poor morphological quality and a lacking expression of pluripotency and differentiation markers, probably caused by an incomplete nuclear reprogramming.