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Cell Reprogram. 2013 Feb;15(1):35-42. doi: 10.1089/cell.2012.0042. Epub 2012 Dec 20.

Effects of donor fibroblast cell type and transferred cloned embryo number on the efficiency of pig cloning.

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Department of Animal Genetics, Breeding and Reproduction, South China Agricultural University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, PR China.


Currently, cloning efficiency in pigs is very low. Donor cell type and number of cloned embryos transferred to an individual surrogate are two major factors that affect the successful rate of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) in pigs. This study aimed to compare the influence of different donor fibroblast cell types and different transferred embryo numbers on recipients' pregnancy rate and delivery rate, the average number of total clones born, clones born alive and clones born healthy per litter, and the birth rate of healthy clones (=total number of healthy cloned piglets born /total number of transferred cloned embryos). Three types of donor fibroblasts were tested in large-scale production of cloned pigs, including fetal fibroblasts (FFBs) from four genetically similar Western swine breeds of Pietrain (P), Duroc (D), Landrace (L), and Yorkshire (Y), which are referred to as P,D,LY-FFBs, adult fibroblasts (AFBs) from the same four breeds, which are designated P,D,L,Y-AFBs, and AFBs from a Chinese pig breed of Laiwu (LW), which is referred to as LW-AFBs. Within each donor fibroblast cell type group, five transferred cloned embryo number groups were tested. In each embryo number group, 150-199, 200-249, 250-299, 300-349, or 350-450 cloned embryos were transferred to each individual recipient sow. For the entire experiment, 92,005 cloned embryos were generated from nearly 115,000 matured oocytes and transferred to 328 recipients; in total, 488 cloned piglets were produced. The results showed that the mean clones born healthy per litter resulted from transfer of embryos cloned from LW-AFBs (2.53 ± 0.34) was similar with that associated with P,D,L,Y-FFBs (2.72 ± 0.29), but was significantly higher than that resulted from P,D,L,Y-AFBs (1.47 ± 0.18). Use of LW-AFBs as donor cells for SCNT resulted in a significantly higher pregnancy rate (72.00% vs. 59.30% and 48.11%) and delivery rate (60.00% vs. 45.93% and 35.85%) for cloned embryo recipients, and a significantly higher birth rate of healthy clones (0.5009% vs. 0.3362% and 0.2433%) than that resulting from P,D,L,Y-AFBs and P,D,L,Y-FFBs. This suggests that using LW-AFBs as donor cells results in a higher cloning efficiency in pigs, compared with the other two donor fibroblast cell types. The birth rate of healthy clones was significantly improved when the number of transferred cloned embryos was increased from 150-199 to 200-450 per recipient. However, increase of the number of transferred embryos from 200-249 to 250-450 per surrogate did not change the birth rate of healthy clones. This suggests that transfer of excessive (250-450) cloned embryos to an individual surrogate is not necessary for increasing the cloning efficiency in pigs, and the relatively optimal number of reconstructed embryos transferred to individual recipient is 200-249. Furthermore, our results indicated that the numbers of total born clones, clones born alive, and clones born healthy per litter have a significantly high positive correlation with each other. The present study provides useful information for improving SCNT efficiency in pigs.

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