Reprogramming of fibroblast nuclei after transfer into bovine oocytes.
Recent landmark achievements in animal cloning have demonstrated that the events of cell differentiation can, in principle, be reversed. This reversal necessarily requires large-scale genetic reprogramming, of which little is known. In the present study we characterized the extent to which blastocyst stage-specific mRNA expression would be conserved in bovine embryos produced by nuclear transfer (NT) using fetal fibroblasts as nuclei donors (FF NT). The mRNA pool of FF NT embryos was compared with that of NT embryos reconstructed from embryonic blastomeres (Emb NT), with embryos produced under in vivo or in vitro conditions, and finally with fibroblast cells. Embryo/cell-specific mRNA pools were contrasted using differential display methodology. Random oligonucleotide primer pair combinations were used to subfractionate mRNA populations and represent individual mRNAs as copy DNA (cDNA) bands ranging in size from 100 to 800 base pairs. Regardless of whether bovine blastocysts developed in vivo or in vitro, or were derived after nuclear transplantation with embryonic blastomeres or fetal fibroblasts, their mRNA profile was highly conserved and distinct from that of fetal fibroblast cells. There was approximately 95% conservation in cDNA banding patterns between FF NT, Emb NT, and in vivo derived blastocysts, when compared with in vitro derived blastocysts. In contrast, the cDNA banding in fibroblasts was only 67% conserved with in vitro derived blastocysts (p < 0.0001), indicating that dramatic changes in gene transcription are induced by nuclear transplantation. After nuclear transplantation, gene expression in fetal fibroblasts is reprogrammed so to mimic that of preimplantation embryo development. Future characterization of these changes will be invaluable for the identification of suitable cell types to serve as nuclear donors for embryo reconstruction and provide information that can be used to improve the efficiency of cloning animals by nuclear transplantation.