The Developmental Competence of Bovine Nuclear Transfer Embryos Derived from Cow versus Heifer Cytoplasts

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Animal Reproduction Science







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Due to its economic importance, the production of cattle by nuclear transfer has been a primary research focus for many researchers during the past few years. While many groups have successfully produced cattle by nuclear transfer, and progress in this area continues, nuclear transfer remains a very inefficient technology. This study evaluates the effect of the oocyte source (cow and heifer) on the developmental competence of nuclear transfer embryos. In order for nuclear transfer to be successful, a differentiated donor cell must be reprogrammed and restored to a totipotent state. This reprogramming is probably accomplished by factors within the oocyte cytoplasm. This study indicates that oocytes derived from cows have a greater capacity to reprogram donor cell DNA following nuclear transfer as compared to heifer oocytes based on in vitro development to the 2-cell stage and to the compacted morula/blastocyst stages. Nuclear transfer embryos derived from cow oocytes resulted in significantly higher rates of pregnancy establishment than embryos derived from heifer oocytes and resulted in higher pregnancy retention at 90 and 180 days and a greater number of term deliveries. Following delivery more calves derived from cow oocytes tended to be healthy and normal than those derived from heifer oocytes. The differences in developmental efficiency between nuclear transfer embryos derived from cow and heifer cytoplasts demonstrate that subtle differences in oocyte biology can have significant effects on subsequent development of nuclear transfer embryos.