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Theriogenology. 2006 Jul 1;66(1):72-81. Epub 2006 Apr 18.

Nuclear transfer in cats and its application.

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  • 1Audubon Nature Institute Center for Research of Endangered Species, New Orleans, LA 70131, USA.


Nuclear transfer (NT) technology is typically used for generating identical individuals, but it is also a powerful resource for understanding the cellular and molecular aspects of nuclear reprogramming. Most recently, the procedure has been used in humans for producing patient-specific embryonic stem cells. The successful application of NT in cats was demonstrated by the birth of domestic and non-domestic cloned kittens at a similar level of efficiency to that reported for other mammalian species. In cats, it has been demonstrated that either in vivo or in vitro matured oocytes can be used as donor cytoplasts. The length of in vitro oocyte maturation affects in vitro development of reconstructed embryos, and oocytes matured in vitro for shorter periods of time are the preferred source of donor cytoplasts. For NT, cat somatic cells can be synchronized into the G0/G1 phase of the cell cycle by using different methods of cell synchronization without affecting the frequency of in vitro development of cloned embryos. Also, embryo development to the blastocyst stage in vitro is not influenced by cell type, but the effect of cell type on the percentage of normal offspring produced requires evaluation. Inter-species NT has potential application for preserving endangered felids, as live offspring of male and female African wildcats (AWC, Felis silvestris lybica) have been born and pregnancies have been produced after transferring black-footed cat (Felis nigripes) cloned embryos into domestic cat (Felis silvestris catus) recipients. Also, successful in vitro embryo development to the blastocyst stage has been achieved after inter-generic NT of somatic cells of non-domestic felids into domestic cat oocytes, but no viable progeny have been obtained. Thus, while cat cytoplasm induces early nuclear remodeling of cell nuclei from a different genus, the high incidence of early embryo developmental arrest may be caused by abnormal nuclear reprogramming. Fetal resorption and abortions were frequently observed at various stages of pregnancy after transfer of AWC cloned embryos into domestic cat recipients. Abnormalities, such as abdominal organ exteriorization and respiratory failure and septicemia were the main causes of death in neonatal cloned kittens. Nonetheless, several live domestic and AWC cloned kittens have been born that are seemingly normal and healthy. It is important to continue evaluating these animals throughout their lives and to examine their capability for natural reproduction.

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