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Interspecies Implantation and Mitochondria Fate of Panda-Rabbit Cloned Embryos1

Society for the Study of Reproduction
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Abstract Somatic cell nuclei of giant pandas can dedifferentiate in enucleated rabbit ooplasm, and the reconstructed eggs can develop to blastocysts. In order to observe whether these interspecies cloned embryos can implant in the uterus of an animal other than the panda, we transferred approximately 2300 panda-rabbit cloned embryos into 100 synchronized rabbit recipients, and none became pregnant. In another approach, we cotransferred both panda-rabbit and cat-rabbit interspecies cloned embryos into the oviducts of 21 cat recipients. Fourteen recipients exhibited estrus within 35 days; five recipients exhibited estrus 43–48 days after embryo transfer; and the other two recipients died of pneumonia, one of which was found to be pregnant with six early fetuses when an autopsy was performed. Microsatellite DNA analysis of these early fetuses confirmed that two were from giant panda-rabbit cloned embryos. The results demonstrated that panda-rabbit cloned embryos can implant in the uterus of a third species, the domestic cat. By using mitochondrial-specific probes of panda and rabbit, we found that mitochondria from both panda somatic cells and rabbit ooplasm coexisted in early blastocysts, but mitochondria from rabbit ooplasm decreased, and those from panda donor cells dominated in early fetuses after implantation. Our results reveal that mitochondria from donor cells may substitute those from recipient oocytes in postimplanted, interspecies cloned embryos.

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