Miniature pigs share many similar characteristics such as anatomy, physiology and body size with humans and are expected to become important animal models for therapeutic cloning using embryonic stem cells (ESCs) derived by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). In the present study, we observed that miniature pig SCNT blastocysts possessed a lower total number of nuclei and a lower percentage of POU5F1-positive cells than those possessed by in vitro fertilized (IVF) blastocysts. To overcome these problems, we evaluated the applicability of aggregating miniature pig SCNT embryos at the four-cell stage. We showed that (i) aggregation of two or three miniature pig SCNT embryos at the four-cell stage improves the total number of nuclei and the percentage of POU5F1-positive cells in blastocysts, and (ii) IVF blastocysts with low cell numbers induced by the removal of two blastomeres at the four-cell stage did not exhibit a decrease in the percentage of POU5F1-positive cells. These results suggest that the aggregation of miniature pig SCNT embryos at the four-cell stage can be a useful technique for improving the quality of miniature pig SCNT blastocysts and indicating that improvement in the percentage of POU5F1-positive cells in aggregated SCNT embryos is not simply the consequence of increased cell numbers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology