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Theriogenology. 2009 Jun;71(9):1367-80. doi: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2008.12.016. Epub 2009 Feb 6.

Absence of paternal accessory sex gland secretions disturbs epigenetic reprogramming and expression of Igf2 and Dlk1 in golden hamster embryos.

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1
Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.

Abstract

Accessory sex gland (ASG) secretion is known to exert an effect on sperm that is heritable in hamster embryos. We hypothesized that ASG secretion changes the sperm epigenome, which in turn is propagated in sired embryos. To test our hypothesis, we produced male hamsters that were devoid of either all ASG (TX) or only the ventral lobe of the prostate gland (VPX). A sham-operated control group (SH) was also established. These males were mated with normal females; uterine sperm, fertilized oocytes, and pre-implantation embryos were harvested from the females after mating. Epididymal sperm were collected at the end of experiments. Immunofluorescent staining was performed on these harvested specimens using antibodies against 5-methylcytosine, Dnmt1, Dnmt3a, Dnmt3b, protamine 1, protamine 2, and aectyl-H4K5. Expression of Igf2 and Dlk1 were analyzed by real-time RT PCR and in situ hybridization. We demonstrated that the DNA methylation pattern changed dynamically in SH, TX, and VPX fertilized oocytes. In VPX and TX embryos, DNA demethylation was slower and remethylation was delayed when compared with SH embryos. In addition, Dnmt3b expression was also abnormal. When sperm from VPX and TX males were exposed to whole ASG secretion in vivo, the resulting embryos all methylated normally. Immunofluorescent staining revealed that there was no difference in protamine packaging of uterine sperm from VPX and TX males. The staining also showed a lower level of acetyl-H4K5 expression in the male pronuclei of TX produced embryos. Furthermore, the VPX and TX embryos also expressed higher levels Igf2, and Dlk1. We concluded that interactions between ASG and sperm affected: (1) histone acetylation in male pronuclei; (2) DNA methylation in fertilized oocytes; and (3) Igf2 and Dlk1 expression embryos.

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