Indexed on: 28 Apr '04Published on: 28 Apr '04Published in: Molecular Reproduction and Development
The nucleolus formation was studied as an indirect marker of the ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes activation in porcine embryos following oocyte maturation, fertilization, and culture in vitro. Nucleologenesis was assessed by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), light microscopical autoradiography following 20 min of 3H-uridine incubation, and immunocytochemical localization of key nucleolar proteins involved in rRNA transcription (upstream binding factor (UBF), topoisomerase I, and RNA polymerase I) and processing (fibrillarin, nucleophosmin, nucleolin) by confocal laser scanning microscopy. During the first four post-fertilization cell cycles, TEM revealed spherical nucleolus precursor bodies (NPBs), consisting of densely packed fibrils, as the most prominent intra-nuclear entities of the blastomeres. Fibrillo-granular nucleoli were observed in some blastomeres in a single embryo during the 5th cell cycle, i.e., the tentative 16-cell stage, where formation of fibrillar centres (FC), a dense fibrillar component, and a granular component on the surface of the NPBs was seen. In this embryo, autoradiographic labeling was detected over the nucleoplasm and in particular over the nucleoli. Fibrillarin was immunocytochemically localized in the presumptive NPBs of the pronuclei. This protein was again localized to the presumptive NPBs together with nucleolin from late during the 3rd cell cycle, i.e., the four-cell stage in some embryos. UBF, RNA polymerase I, and nucleophosmin were localized to the presumptive NPBs in a proportion of the embryos at the 4th cell cycle, i.e., the tentative eight-cell stage and onwards. Toposiomerase I was not localized to intra-nuclear entities even during the 5th post-fertilization cell cycle. Moreover, a considerable proportion of the blastomere nuclei apparently did not show localization of other nucleolar proteins. In conclusion, porcine embryos produced in vitro display a substantial delay in or even lack of the development of functional nucleoli.