Maternal spindle transfer overcomes embryo developmental arrest caused by ooplasmic defects in mice

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Abstract

The developmental potential of early embryos is mainly dictated by the quality of the oocyte. Here, we explore the utility of the maternal spindle transfer (MST) technique as a reproductive approach to enhance oocyte developmental competence. Our proof-of-concept experiments show that replacement of the entire cytoplasm of oocytes from a sensitive mouse strain overcomes massive embryo developmental arrest characteristic of non-manipulated oocytes. Genetic analysis confirmed minimal carryover of mtDNA following MST. Resulting mice showed low heteroplasmy levels in multiple organs at adult age, normal histology and fertility. Mice were followed for five generations (F5), revealing that heteroplasmy was reduced in F2 mice and was undetectable in the subsequent generations. This pre-clinical model demonstrates the high efficiency and potential of the MST technique, not only to prevent the transmission of mtDNA mutations, but also as a new potential treatment for patients with certain forms of infertility refractory to current clinical strategies.

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