Bioluminescence Imaging of Transgene Expression in Intact Porcine Ovarian Follicles in Vitro
AdvisorWillard, Scott T.
Kouba, Andy J.
Ryan, Peter L.
The porcine antral follicle, which consists of an oocyte and surrounding follicular components, including theca, granulosa, and cumulus cells and follicular fluid, is an essential microenvironment for oocyte development and maturation. Investigating cellular and molecular events in the context of the whole follicle will aid in our understanding of interactions between the oocyte and the follicular components. The objective of this dissertation was to develop a novel bioluminescent imaging model to visualize and measure cellular and molecular events in living intact ovarian follicles in vitro. Bioluminescence imaging was employed to facilitate noninvasive, dynamic, and real-time transgene analysis in living intact follicles. The time courses of luciferase-luciferin reactions, effective plasmid DNA and D-luciferin doses and their combinations were determined as the first step toward developing a new real-time bioluminescence imaging model. In addition, the efficient nonviral gene delivery methods: cationic lipid mediated gene transfer (chemical) and electroporation (physical) for the living intact follicles were determined. For the cationic lipid mediated gene transfer method, the 1:3 DNA lipid ratio was optimal. It was also found that the optimal condition of electroporation (4 electric pulses with 100 ms duration at field strength of 100 V/cm) resulted in 15 times higher luciferase activity and increased granulosa cell viability over the cationic lipid mediated gene transfer method. Moreover, increased granulosa cell viability, increased follicular fluid progesterone content, and oocytes with expanded cumulus cells were observed in intact follicles transfected by electroporation at a field strength of 100 V/cm. Finally, bioluminescence imaging was applied to quantify functional and ligand-activated estrogen receptor (ER) activity within living intact follicles. The functional ERs were differentially activated during the different stages of the estrous cycle in the mature sow; the levels of functional ER activity in cultured granulosa cells and intact follicles in vitro were increased from late luteal phase to early follicular phase and then significantly decreased at late follicular phase. The methodology developed herein can be applicable to further our understanding of oocyte and follicle development and oocyte maturation.