Handmade cloning is a zona-free nuclear transfer approach and an economical, efficient, and simple micromanipulation-free alternative to dolly based traditional cloning (TC). In this study, based on handmade cloning with minor modifications, an optimized bi-oocyte fusion (BOF) cloning method was established to produce GGTA1 KO porcine embryos using the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system. The GGTA1 gene is responsible for the generation of Gal epitopes on the surface of porcine cells, triggering hyperacute immune rejection in preclinical porcine-to-human xenotransplantation. The purpose of the present study is to establish an efficient protocol for activation of porcine oocyte cytoplast-fibroblast fused constructs developed to GGTA1 KO blastocysts by the zona-free bi-oocyte fusion cloning method. High percentages of cleavage (90 ± 2.6%) and blastocyst rates (39 ± 4.0%) were achieved upon treatment with demecolcine-assisted oocyte enucleation followed by 6 V alternating current for proper alignment and single-step fusion technique using a single direct current pulse of 1.0 kV/cm for 9 μs duration, compared to the double-step fusion method with combined chemical activation using thimerosal and dithiothreitol. Overall blastocyst rate was higher for oocyte enucleation by demecolcine (0.4 μg/ml) and 45 min incubation (42 ± 1.5%) compared to without demecolcine incubation followed by complete chemical thimerosal/dithiothreitol activation (33 ± 1.1%). The blastocyst rate (39 ± 1.0%) was found to be significantly higher 1 h post-electrofusion, compared to at 0 and 4 h (28 ± 1.5 and 6 ± 1.5%, respectively). Blastocyst development rates for GGTA1 knockout embryos (38 ± 1.76%) were comparable to those obtained with wild-type embryos (41.1 ± 0.67%). In conclusion, we achieved high overall efficiency in production of GGTA1 KO blastocysts by modified HMC protocol.
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