Procaine Induces Cytokinesis in Horse Oocytes via a pH Dependent Mechanism

Bart Leemans, Bart M Gadella, Tom A E Stout, Sonia Heras, Katrien Smits, Minerva Ferrer-Buitrago, Eline Claes, Björn Heindryckx, Winnok H De Vos, Hilde Nelis, Maarten Hoogewijs, Ann Van Soom

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    Co-incubating equine gametes in the presence of procaine has been reported to facilitate in vitro fertilization, with cleavage rates exceeding 60%. We report that, while procaine does trigger sperm hyperactivation, it independently induces cleavage of equine oocytes. First, we found that procaine (1-5 mM) did not facilitate stallion sperm penetration of equine oocytes, but instead induced sperm-independent oocyte cytokinesis in the absence of the second polar body extrusion. Indeed, 56 ± 4% of oocytes cleaved within 2.5 d of exposure to 2.5 mM procaine, irrespective of sperm presence. However, the cleaved oocytes did not develop beyond 8-16 cells, and the daughter cells either lacked nuclei or contained aberrant, condensed DNA fragments. By contrast, intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) was followed by second polar body extrusion and formation of normal blastocysts. Moreover, neither the calcium oscillations detectable using fura-2 AM staining nor the cortical granule reaction visualized by LCA-FITC staining, after oocyte activation induced by ICSI or ionomycin treatment, were detected after exposing oocytes to 2.5 mM procaine. Instead, procaine initiated an ooplasmic alkalinization, detectable by BCECF-AM staining, that was not observed after other treatments. This alkalinization was followed, after an additional 18 h incubation, by cortical F-actin depolymerization, as demonstrated by reduced actin phalloidin-FITC staining intensity, that resembled preparation for cytokinesis in ICSI-fertilized zygotes. Overall, we conclude that procaine induces cytokinesis in equine oocytes accompanied by aberrant chromatin condensation and division; this explains why embryos produced after exposing equine oocytes to procaine fail to develop beyond the 8-16 cell stage.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    JournalBiology of Reproduction
    Issue number1
    Early online date17 Jun 2015
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


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