Gene injection in the bovine: effect of time of microinjection and nuclear transfer technologies

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Virginia Tech


Four experiments were conducted to investigate methods of producing transgenic bovine embryos entirely in vitro. Experiment 1 examined the effect of DNA microinjection at 11, 15 and 19 h after fertilization (haf) on survival rate and DNA detection frequency by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). There was no difference in transgene detection frequency between treatments (53% at 11; 50% at 15; 48% at 19 haf). Of all injected embryos developing to the morula or blastocyst stage after 7 d in culture, 89% tested positive for the presence of the transgene by PCR. Greater developmental efficiencies can be obtained when injection is performed early in pronuclear formation (7% (11/161) at 11; 4% (61159) at 15; 1 % (1/165) at 19 haf; p<0.05). Experiment 2 examined the effect of microinjection of DNA into the germinal vesicle (gv) of bovine oocytes on subsequent development and detection of the transgene. Injection of the transgene into the gv reduced developmental rates compared to controls (control=23% (89/384); non-injected=9% (23/250); GV injected=5% (12/259); p<O.05). Transgene detection frequency was 64% (37/58). Injection of bovine oocytes before fertilization results in viable embryos containing the transgene, although at low frequencies. Experiment 3 was designed to examine whether the frequency of microinjected DNA detection by peR In whole bovine embryos would decline over a 21 d culture period. At d 0, the transgene was detected in 100% (46/46) of embryos analyzed. At d 7, detection frequency was 84% (51/62) in viable embryos, at d 14 49% (18/37), and at d 21 38% (3/8). DNA detection frequency in microinjected bovine embryos by PCR analysis does not give a reliable indication of live transgenic birth rates until after 14 d in culture. Experiment 4 examined microinjected bovine embryos for their potential use as donor embryos in nuclear transfer, or cloning. There was no difference in development between embryos cloned from microinjected donor embryos and those from control donor embryos (injected=11 % (37/377); control=9% (7/81); p>0.05). Of the embryos developing from microinjected donors, 32% (12/37) were PCR positive. Microinjected embryos can be successfully used in a nuclear transfer program to produce more viable embryos, and the resulting embryos may be more reliably screened by PCR. The efficiency of producing viable bovine embryos positive for the injected gene may be increased by performing microinjection early in pronuclear formation, and entering the resulting embryos into a nuclear transfer program.