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Mercado J.A.,Audubon Nature Institute | Wirtu G.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Beaufrre H.,Louisiana State University | Lydick D.,Audubon Nature Institute
Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery | Year: 2010

Intraocular pressure (IOP) measurement is a common procedure during eye examinations in birds. Differences in the IOP between avian species have been reported, which suggests the need to establish species-specific reference ranges. To determine IOP values of captive black-footed penguins (Spheniscus demersus), we obtained IOP readings with the use of a rebound tonometer by using two established calibration settings (dog and horse). No difference was seen in the IOP between the left and right eye when the horse setting was used; however, a difference was present when using the dog setting. No significant difference between the IOP of male and female penguins was seen in both eyes when the dog or horse setting was used. Rebound tonometry appears to be a safe and repeatable method to obtain IOP values in black-footed penguins. © 2010 by the Association of Avian Veterinarians.


Filliers M.,Ghent University | Goossens K.,Ghent University | Van Soom A.,Ghent University | Merlo B.,University of Bologna | And 5 more authors.
Reproduction, Fertility and Development | Year: 2012

During mammalian preimplantation development, two successive differentiation events lead to the establishment of three committed lineages with separate fates: the trophectoderm, the primitive endoderm and the pluripotent epiblast. In the mouse embryo, the molecular mechanisms underlying these two cell fate decisions have been studied extensively, leading to the identification of lineage-specific transcription factors. Species-specific differences in expression patterns of key regulatory genes have been reported, raising questions regarding their role in different species. The aim of the present study was to characterise the gene expression patterns of pluripotency (OCT4, SOX2, NANOG) and differentiation (CDX2, GATA6)-related markers during feline early development using reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction. In addition, we assessed the impact of in vitro development on gene expression by comparing transcript levels of the genes investigated between in vitro and in vivo blastocysts. To normalise quantitative data within different preimplantation embryo stages, we first validated a set of stable reference genes. Transcript levels of all genes investigated were present and changed over the course of preimplantation development; a highly significant embryo-stage effect on gene expression was observed. Transcript levels of OCT4 were significantly reduced in in vitro blastocysts compared with their in vivo counterparts. None of the other genes investigated showed altered expression under in vitro conditions. The different gene expression patterns of OCT4, SOX2, CDX2 and GATA6 in cat embryos resembled those described in mouse embryos, indicative of a preserved role for these genes during early segregation. However, because of the absence of any upregulation of NANOG transcription levels after embryonic genome activation, it is unlikely that NANOG is a key regular of lineage segregation. Such results support the hypothesis that the behaviour of early lineage markers can be species specific. The present study also revealed a pool of maternal NANOG mRNA transcripts, the role of which remains to be elucidated. Comparing transcription levels of these genes between in vivo and in vitro blastocysts revealed low levels of OCT4 mRNA in the latter, which may contribute to the reduced developmental competence of embryos under suboptimal conditions. © 2012 CSIRO.


Gomez M.C.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Pope C.E.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Biancardi M.N.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Dumas C.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | And 5 more authors.
Cellular Reprogramming | Year: 2011

The black-footed cat (BFC; Felis nigripes), one of the smallest wild cats, is listed as threatened. Interspecies somatic cell nuclear transfer (Is-SCNT) offers the possibility of preserving endangered species. Development to term of interspecies BFC (Is-BFC) cloned embryos has not been obtained, possibly due to abnormal epigenetic reprogramming. Treatment of intraspecies cloned embryos with TSA improves nuclear reprogramming and in vitro and in vivo viability. In this study, we evaluated (1) whether covalent histone modifications differ between Is-BFC cloned embryos and their IVF counterparts, (2) the optimal TSA concentration and exposure times to modify the covalent histone patterns, (3) if TSA enhances in vitro and in vivo developmental competence of cloned embryos, and (4) expression of pluripotent genes. Results indicated that the covalent histone modifications of Is-BFC cloned embryos aberrantly differ from their DSH-IVF counterpart embryos. Aberrant epigenetic events may be due partially to the inability of the DSH cytoplasm to modify the restrictive epigenetic marks of the BFC nuclei after somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). Incomplete remodeling of the histone H3K9me2 in Is-BFC cloned embryos possibly contributes to abnormal expression of pluripotent genes and low embryonic development. Treatment of Is-BFC cloned embryos with TSA remodeled the covalent pattern in H3K9ac and H3K9me2, resembling epigenetic patterns in IVF counterpart embryos, and resulted in activation of some pluripotent genes. However, genomic reprogramming of Is-BFC cloned blastocysts did not follow the same reprogramming pattern observed in DSH-IVF embryos, and in vitro and in vivo developmental competence was not enhanced. © 2011 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


Gomez M.C.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Biancardi M.N.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Jenkins J.A.,U.S. Geological Survey | Dumas C.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | And 3 more authors.
Reproduction in Domestic Animals | Year: 2012

Contents: Somatic cell nuclear transfer offers the possibility of preserving endangered species including the black-footed cat, which is threatened with extinction. The effectiveness and efficiency of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) depends on a variety of factors, but 'inappropriate epigenetic reprogramming of the transplanted nucleus is the primary cause of the developmental failure of cloned embryos. Abnormal epigenetic events such as DNA methylation and histone modifications during SCNT perturb the expression of imprinted and pluripotent-related genes that, consequently, may result in foetal and neonatal abnormalities. We have demonstrated that pregnancies can be established after transfer of black-footed cat cloned embryos into domestic cat recipients, but none of the implanted embryos developed to term and the foetal failure has been associated to aberrant reprogramming in cloned embryos. There is growing evidence that modifying the epigenetic pattern of the chromatin template of both donor cells and reconstructed embryos with a combination of inhibitors of histone deacetylases and DNA methyltransferases results in enhanced gene reactivation and improved in vitro and in vivo developmental competence. Epigenetic modifications of the chromatin template of black-footed cat donor cells and reconstructed embryos with epigenetic-modifying compounds enhanced in vitro development, and regulated the expression of pluripotent genes, but these epigenetic modifications did not improve in vivo developmental competence. © 2012 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.


PubMed | University of New Orleans, Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species and Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Biology of reproduction | Year: 2016

In many mammalian species, surface markers have been used to obtain enriched populations of spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) for assisted reproduction and other applications; however, little is known about the expression patterns of feline SSCs. In this study, we assessed expression of the SSC surface markers commonly used in other species, KIT, ITGA6, CD9, GFRalpha1, ADGRA3, and THY1, in addition to the less frequently used pluripotent markers TRA-1-60, TRA-1-81, SSEA-1, and SSEA-4 in SSCs of both prepubertal and adult domestic cats (Felis catus). To further characterize cat SSCs, we sorted cells using SSC-specific markers and evaluated the expression of the pluripotent transcription factors NANOG, POU5F1, and SOX2 and the proto-oncogene MYC within these populations. We concluded that SSC surface markers used in other mammalian species were not specific for identifying cat SSCs. However, the pluripotent markers we evaluated were more specific to cat spermatogonia, and the presence of SSEA-1 and SSEA-4 in fewer and primarily individual cells suggests that these two markers may be used for enrichment of cat SSCs. The expression of pluripotent transcription factors at mRNA level by single-stained cells positive for SSEA-4 and by dual-stained cells positive for both GFRalpha1 and SSEA-4 reflects the undifferentiated stage of cat SSCs. The absence of transcription factors in double-stained cells positive for only one marker implies the loss of the stem cell-like identity with the loss of either GFRalpha1 or SSEA-4. Further investigation is warranted to elucidate the biological characteristics of these spermatogonial subpopulations.


Pope C.E.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Gomez M.C.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Kagawa N.,Kato Ladies Clinic | Kuwayama M.,Repro | And 4 more authors.
Theriogenology | Year: 2012

We evaluated: (1) cleavage rate after IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) of in vivo- and in vitro-matured oocytes after vitrification (experiment 1); and (2) fetal development after transfer of resultant ICSI-derived embryos into recipients (experiment 2). In vivo-matured cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) were recovered from gonadotropin-treated donors at 24 h after LH treatment. In vitro-matured oocytes were obtained by mincing ovaries (from local veterinary clinics) and placing COCs into maturation medium for 24 h. Mature oocytes were denuded and cryopreserved in a vitrification solution of 15% DMSO, 15% ethylene glycol, and 18% sucrose. In experiment 1, for both in vivo- and in vitro-matured oocytes, cleavage frequencies after IVF of control and vitrified oocytes and after ICSI of vitrified oocytes were not different (P > 0.05). After vitrification, blastocyst development occurred only in IVF-derived, in vitro-matured oocytes. In experiment 2, 18 presumptive zygotes and four two-cell embryos derived by ICSI of vitrified in vitro-matured oocytes and 19 presumptive zygotes produced from seven in vivo- and 12 in vitro-matured oocytes were transferred by laparoscopy into the oviducts of two recipients, respectively. On Day 21, there were three fetuses in one recipient and one fetus in the other. On Days 63 and 66 of gestation, four live kittens were born. In vivo viability of zygotes and/or embryos produced via ICSI of vitrified oocytes was established by birth of live kittens after transfer to recipients. © 2012 Elsevier Inc.


Gomez M.C.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Serrano M.A.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Serrano M.A.,University of New Orleans | Pope C.E.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | And 7 more authors.
Theriogenology | Year: 2010

The domestic cat is a focal mammalian species that is used as a model for developing assisted reproductive technologies for preserving endangered cats and for studying human diseases. The generation of stable characterized cat embryonic stem cells (ESC) lines to use as donor nuclei may help to improve the efficiency of interspecies somatic cell nuclear transfer for preserving endangered cats and allow the creation of knockout cell lines to generate knockout cats for studying function of specific genes related to human diseases. It will also enable the possibility of producing gametes in vitro from ESC of endangered cats. In the present study, we report the generation of cat embryonic stem-like (cESL) cells from blastocysts derived entirely in vitro. We generated 32 cESL cell lines from 331 in vitro derived blastocysts from which inner cell masses were isolated by immunosurgery or by a mechanical method. Inhibition of cat dermal fibroblast (CDF) proliferation after exposure to mitomycin-C was both dose and time dependent, where doses of 30 to 40 μg/mL for 5 h were most efficient. These dosages were higher than that required to inhibit cell proliferation of mouse fetal fibroblasts (MFF; 10 μg/mL for 2.5 h). Mitomycin-C did not significantly increase necrosis of cells from either species, and had an anti-proliferative effect at concentrations below cytotoxicity. A clear species-specific relationship between feeder layers and derivation of cESL cell lines was observed, where higher numbers of cESL cell lines were generated on homologous cat feeder layers (n = 26) than from those derived on heterologous mouse feeder layers (n = 6). Three cESL cell lines generated from immunosurgery and cultured on CDF maintained self-renewal and were morphologically undifferentiated for nine and twelve passages (69-102 days). These lines showed a tightly packed dome shaped morphology, exhibited alkaline phosphatase activity and immuno-expression of the pluripotent marker OCT-4 and surface marker SSEA-1. Primary colonies at P0 to P3 and cat blastocysts expressed transcription factors OCT-4, NANOG and SOX-2 and the proto-oncogene C-MYC. However, expression was at levels significantly lower than in vitro produced blastocysts. During culture, cESL colonies spontaneously differentiated into fibroblasts, cardiomyocytes, and embryoid bodies. Development of techniques to prevent differentiation of cESL cells will be essential for maintaining defined cell lines. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.


Park K.-E.,Purdue University | Johnson C.M.,Purdue University | Magnani L.,Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center | Wang X.,Purdue University | And 2 more authors.
Molecular Reproduction and Development | Year: 2010

Methylation of the lysine 9 residue of histone H3 (H3K9) is linked to transcriptional repression. The observed structure of chromatin in porcine and murine embryos is different with regard to H3K9 dimethylation status, leading to our hypothesis that the intracellular mechanisms responsible for H3K9 methylation would also differ between these two species. The objectives of this study were: (1) to determine the extent that DNA, mRNA, and protein synthesis serve in maintaining the asymmetrical distribution of dimethylated H3K9 in porcine zygotes, (2) determine the extent to which the intracellular localization of individual pronuclei correlated with H3K9 dimethylation status, and (3) to determine the abundance of transcripts encoding the histone methyltransferases, with H3K9 methylation activity, in porcine oocytes and embryos. Our findings are that (1) H3K9 dimethylation status is not affected by DNA replication, transcription, or protein synthesis, (2) the location of a pronucleus does not significantly affect the H3K9 dimethylation status of the chromatin within that pronucleus, and (3) the histone methyltransferases with activity for H3K9 differ in transcript abundance in porcine oocytes and cleavage stage embyros. These results support our hypothesis that there is a difference in intracellular mechanisms affecting dimethylation status of H3K9 between porcine and murine embryos. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


Pope C.E.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Gomez M.C.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Galiguis J.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species | Dresser B.L.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species
Reproduction in Domestic Animals | Year: 2012

Contents: Our objectives were (i) compare in vitro development of early cleavage stage domestic cat embryos after cryopreservation by minimal volume vitrification vs a standard slow, controlled-rate method, (ii) determine viability of vitrified domestic cat embryos by oviductal transfer into synchronous recipients and (iii) evaluate in vivo survival of black-footed cat (BFC, Felis nigripes) embryos after intra- and inter-species transfer. In vitro-derived (IVM/IVF) cat embryos were used to evaluate in vitro development after controlled-rate cryopreservation vs vitrification vs controls. Blastocyst development was similar in both groups of cryopreserved embryos (22-26%), but it was lower (p < 0.05) than that of fresh embryos (50%). After embryo transfer, four of eight recipients of vitrified embryos established pregnancies - three of six (50%) and one of two (50%) that received embryos from in vivo- and in vitro-matured oocytes, respectively. Three male and two female kittens weighing from 51 to 124 g (mean = 88 g) were delivered on days 61-65 of gestation. In BFC, four intra-species embryo transfer procedures were carried out - two recipients received fresh day 2 embryos (n = 5, 8) and two recipients received embryos that had been cryopreserved on day 1 (n = 6) or 2 (n = 8). A 2-year-old recipient of cryopreserved embryos established pregnancy and delivered two live male kittens. Subsequently, five cryopreserved BFC embryos were transferred to a domestic cat recipient. On day 29, the recipient was determined to be pregnant and delivered naturally a live, healthy female BFC kitten on day 66. In summary, in vivo survival of vitrified domestic cat embryos was shown by the births of kittens after transfer into recipients. Also, we demonstrated that sperm and embryo cryopreservation could be combined with intra- and inter-species embryo transfer and integrated into the array of assisted reproductive techniques used successfully for propagation of a rare and vulnerable felid species, the black-footed cat. © 2012 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.


Pope C.E.,Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species
Theriogenology | Year: 2014

A brief overview of the progress made during the past approximately 40 years on the development of methods for invitro production of cat embryos and intra- and interspecies embryo transfer is described. The presentation is focused primarily on research done over the past 30 years at the Cincinnati Zoo (1980-1995) and at the Audubon Nature Institute, New Orleans (1996-present) beginning with original studies on determining optimal doses of porcine FSH for ovarian stimulation and uterine embryo recovery, cryopreservation, and transfer. A key early finding was the ability of cats to respond to multiple gonadotropin (porcine FSH) treatments by repeated stimulation of follicular development. With a ≥6-month interval between FSH treatments, over the past 15 years (1998-2013), we have done 1603 laparoscopic oocyte retrievals on 337 cats and recovered >38,000 mature oocytes (mean = 24.1 per laparoscopic oocyte retrieval). The limited information available on invivo blastocyst development in the cat during the latter portion of the preimplantation period (approximately Days 8 to 12 after coitum or approximately Days 7 to 11 after ovulation) was assembled for the purpose of comparing and contrasting it with the growth, expansion, and zona functioning of invitro-derived blastocysts. Also, results of transferring morulae and/or blastocysts into synchronous recipients are described to emphasize evidence that appears to allude to an essential role for an intact zona pellucida in successful implantation and subsequent development in the cat. Until 2003, our invitro-derived embryos were transferred into the uterine horns of recipients to determine the feasibility of producing offspring from such primary methods as IVF, intracytoplasmic sperm injection, SCNT, and embryo cryopreservation. With the exception of SCNT embryos, pregnancy rates were satisfactory, but embryo survival rates were not. Subsequently, after finding that SCNT embryo survival rate could be improved using laparoscopic transfer of early cleavage stage embryos into the oviduct, we applied the technique to embryos derived using IVF with sex-sorted sperm, oocyte vitrification, and embryo cryopreservation. Overall, a pregnancy rate of 67% (14/21) has resulted. Most recently, with the oviductal embryo transfer technique, two litters of Black-Footed cat kittens have been born from intra- and interspecies transfer of cryopreserved embryos. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.

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