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A fast and reliable protocol for activation of porcine oocytes

de Macedo, Mariana P., Glanzner, Werner G., Rissi, Vitor B., Gutierrez, Karina, Currin, Luke, Baldassarre, Hernan, Bordignon, Vilceu
Theriogenology 2019 v.123 pp. 22-29
blastocyst, calcium, chelating agents, cyclins, embryogenesis, exposure duration, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, oocytes, parthenogenesis, protein kinase C, protocols, somatic cells, spermatozoa, swine, zinc
Oocyte activation is physiologically triggered by the sperm during fertilization, however, production of porcine embryos by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) or parthenogenetic activation (PA) requires artificial oocyte activation. Although effective protocols for artificial oocyte activation have been developed, current protocols require long exposures to non-specific inhibitors, which do not mimic the physiological process and may have detrimental consequences for embryo development. This study attempted to mimic the physiological activation events induced by fertilization, through the manipulation of Ca2+ and Zn2+ levels, and protein kinase C (PKC) as well as cyclin dependent kinase 1 (CDK1) activities, with the aim of developing an improved protocol for activation of porcine oocytes. In the first experiment, matured oocytes were exposed to ionomycin (Ion) for 5 min, and then treated with a specific CDK1 inhibitor (RO-3306) and/or PKC activator (OAG) for different time intervals. The highest rate of pronuclear (PN) formation (58.8%) was obtained when oocytes were treated with PKCa + CDK1i for 4 h. Second, PN formation and embryo development were evaluated in oocytes exposed for different times to a Zn2+ chelator (TPEN) following Ion treatment. This revealed that 15 min was the minimal exposure time to TPEN required to maximise oocyte activation and embryo development. Next, we observed that treatment with PKCa + CDK1i for 4 h after TPEN for 15 min decreased embryo development compared to TPEN alone. Lastly, we compared the efficiency of the Ion (5 min) plus TPEN (15 min) protocol (IT-20) with a control protocol used in our laboratory (CT-245) for production of PA, SCNT and ICSI embryos. In PA embryos, IT-20 resulted in higher cleavage (72% vs 49.2%) and blastocyst from cleaved embryos (65.5% vs 46.2%) compared to CT-245. In ICSI embryos, higher PN rates were obtained with the IT-20 protocol compared with CT-245 and the non-activated (N-A) group. Moreover, the two protocols were equally efficient for activation of SCNT embryos. Based on these findings, we propose that IT-20 is a fast and effective protocol for activation of porcine oocytes.