Birth of African Wildcat cloned kittens born from domestic cats

Cloning Stem Cells. 2004;6(3):247-58. doi: 10.1089/clo.2004.6.247.


In the present study, we used the African Wildcat (Felis silvestris lybica) as a somatic cell donor to evaluate the in vivo developmental competence, after transfer into domestic cat recipients, of cloned embryos produced by the fusion of African Wildcat (AWC) fibroblast cell nuclei with domestic cat cytoplasts. Cloned embryos were produced by fusion of a single AWC somatic cell to in vivo or in vitro enucleated domestic cat cytoplasts. When the two sources of oocytes were compared, fusion rate was higher using in vivo-matured oocytes as recipient cytoplasts, but cleavage rate was higher after reconstruction of in vitro-matured oocytes. To determine the number of reconstructed embryos required per domestic cat recipient to consistently establish pregnancies, AWC cloned embryos were transferred within two groups: recipients (n = 24) receiving < or =25 embryos and recipients (n = 26) receiving > or =30 embryos. Twelve recipients (46.2%) receiving > or =30 embryos were diagnosed to be pregnant, while no pregnancies were established in recipients receiving < or =25 NT embryos. Also, to determine the influence of length of in vitro culture on pregnancy rate, we compared oviductal transfer on day 1 and uterine transfer on day 5, 6, or 7. Pregnancy rates were similar after transfer of embryos on day 1 (6/12; 50.0%), day 5 (4/9; 44.4%), or day 6 (2/5; 40.0%) to synchronous recipients, but the number of fetuses developing after transfer of embryos on day 1 (n = 17), versus day 5 (n = 4) or day 6 (n = 3) was significantly different. Of the 12 pregnant recipients, nine (75%) developed to term and fetal resorption or abortion occurred in the other three (25%) from day 30 to 48 of gestation. Of a total of 17 cloned kittens born, seven were stillborn, eight died within hours of delivery or up to 6 weeks of age, and two are alive and healthy. Perinatal mortality was due to lung immaturity at premature delivery, placental separation and bacterial septicemia. Subsequent DNA analysis of 12 cat-specific microsatellite loci confirmed that all 17 kittens were clones of the AWC donor male. These AWC kittens represent the first wild carnivores to be produced by nuclear transfer.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics*
  • Cloning, Organism / methods*
  • Embryo Transfer*
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics*
  • Oocytes / cytology*
  • Pregnancy