Interspecies cloning may be used as an effective method to conserve highly endangered species and to support the development of non-human primate animal models for studying therapeutic cloning and nuclear-cytoplasm interaction. The use of the monkey model for biomedical research can avoid legal, ethical, and experimental limitations encountered in a clinical situation. We describe in this study the in vitro development of macaca-rabbit embryos produced by fusing macaca fibroblasts with enucleated rabbit oocytes and examine the fate of mitochondrial DNA in these embryos. We show that macaca-rabbit cloned embryos can develop to the blastocyst stage when cultured in vitro in HECM(10) +10% FBS and that mitochondrial DNA derived from donor somatic cells was detectable in cloned embryos throughout preimplantation development. These results suggest that (1) macaca fibroblast nuclei can dedifferentiate in enucleated metaphase II rabbit oocytes; (2) HECM(10) +10% FBS can break through the development block and support the development of macaca-rabbit cloned embryos to blastocysts; and (3) donor-cell-derived mitochondrial DNA is not eliminated until blastocyst stage.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.