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Biol Reprod. 1998 Dec;59(6):1491-7.

Parthenogenetic activation of marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) oocytes and the development of marmoset parthenogenones in vitro and in vivo.

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Institute of Zoology, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY, United Kingdom.


Mammalian oocytes can be induced to resume meiosis without fertilization, and the resulting parthenogenetic embryos carry only maternal chromosomes. Human oocytes can be activated by many chemical and physical stimuli, but postimplantation studies of human parthenogenetic embryos are not ethically acceptable. The common marmoset monkey (Callithrix jacchus) is a good model for studying primate parthenogenetic development postimplantation, since follicular aspiration, embryo transfer, and early postimplantation development of biparental embryos have already been described. Marmoset oocytes were either subjected to two series of six electrical pulses (DC; 2 kV/cm and 70 microsec) or were incubated in 7% ethanol in PBS. Ninety-two percent (68 of 74) and 20% (8 of 40) of marmoset oocytes were activated by electrical stimulus or ethanol, respectively. Parthenogenetic (n = 3) or in vitro-fertilized (n = 2) embryos were transferred at the 4-cell stage to synchronized recipient female marmosets (n = 5). Progesterone, chorionic gonadotropin, and inhibin in the peripheral plasma of recipient animals were measured. After 33 days of gestation, recipient animals were perfused and the uteri were collected. The 2 females that had received biparental embryos and 2 of the 3 females that had received parthenogenetic embryos displayed biochemical and histological evidence of implantation. This is the first report that a primate embryo comprising only parthenogenetic cells is capable of implantation. This highlights the need to scrutinize levels of parthenogenesis associated with human assisted reproductive technologies. Marmoset parthenogenones also provide a unique model for elucidating the roles of parental genomes in primate development.

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