To assess the extent of cytoplasmic genetic variability in cloned cattle produced by nuclear transplantation procedures, we investigated 29 individuals of seven male cattle clones (sizes 2-6) from two different commercial sources. Restriction enzyme and direct sequence analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) detected a total of 12 different haplotypes. Transmitochondrial individuals (i.e., animals which share identical nuclei but have different mitochondrial DNA) were detected in all but one of the clones, demonstrating that mtDNA variation among cloned cattle is a very common phenomenon which prevents true genetic identity. The analyses also showed that the cytoplasmic genetic status of some investigated individuals and clones is further complicated by heteroplasmy (more than one mtDNA type in an individual). The relative proportions of different mtDNA-types in two animals with mild heteroplasmy were estimated at 2:98% and 4:96% in DNA samples derived from blood. This is in agreement with values expected from karyoplast-cytoplast volume ratios. In contrast, the mtDNA haplotype proportions observed in six other heteroplasmic animals of two different clones ranged from 21:79% to 57:43%, reflecting a marked increase in donor blastomere mtDNA contributions. These results suggest that mtDNA type of donor embryos and recipient oocytes used in nuclear transfer cattle cloning should be controlled to obtain true clones with identical nuclear and cytoplasmic genomes.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.