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J Exp Zool. 1998 Jun 15;281(3):188-200.

Embryogenesis-promoting factors in rat serum.

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Department of Embryology, Aichi Human Service Center, Japan.


Regarding whole rat embryo cultures in vitro, rat serum as a culture medium is known to support the normal growth of rat embryos in the organogenesis phase. The purpose of the present study was to isolate the embryogenesis-promoting factors from rat serum as a first step in the development of a defined serum-free medium for a whole embryo culture system. Pooled rat serum after heat inactivation was fractionated into three major peaks (frA, containing a region of void volume, frB, and frC) by gel filtration. The 9.5-day rat embryos that were cultivated for 48 hr in essential salt medium containing frB (with a molecular size range of 100-500 kDa) revealed normal growth. Three proteins (27 kDa, 76 kDa, and 190 kDa) that had the embryogenesis-promoting effects were isolated from 3-hr delayed centrifuged rat serum by the ion exchange chromatography. The 76-kDa protein was found to be rat transferrin by immunoblotting. The 27-kDa protein was identified as apo-AI (the major apoprotein of high-density lipoprotein) by immunoblotting. High-density lipoprotein obtained from pooled rat serum by a NaBr density gradient ultracentrifugation was found to have a positive effect on embryogenesis. The 10-kDa protein was also identified as alpha 1-inhibitor 3 by immunoblotting. In addition, the embryogenesis-promoting effect of the fraction containing 27-kDa and 190-kDa proteins declined within a short period of storage at -20 degrees C. This decrease was countered by supplementing its fraction (D-2) with albumin isolated from rat serum. These results in the present study suggest that transferrin, high-density lipoprotein, and alpha 1-inhibitor 3 in rat serum may be embryogenesis-promoting factors, and that albumin appeared to play a role in the embryogenesis of rat embryos in whole embryo cultures.

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