Abstract #70

# 70
K. Gutierrez*1, W. G. Glanzner2, N. Dicks1, R. C. Bohrer1, L. G. Currin1, L. Michalovic1, L. B. Agellon1, V. Bordignon1, 1McGill University, Montréal, QC, Canada;, 2Federal University of Santa Maria, Santa Maria, RS, Brazil.

Early developing embryos are very sensitive to their developmental milieu. For instance, variations in temperature, pH, or culture media composition can trigger endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Endoplasmic reticulum stress has been shown to reduce early embryo development and embryo quality. In response to ER stress, embryos activate coping mechanisms, such as the unfolded protein response, to re-establish ER homeostasis. The X box binding protein (XBP1) is one of the main transducers of the unfolded protein response. Under ER stress, XBP1 mRNA is unconventionally spliced by IRE1α to yield its activated isoform (XBP1s), which allows expression of genes involved in protein folding, transport, and degradation. XBP1s has been detected in oocytes and early stage embryos of different species, including Drosophila, Xenopus, zebrafish, mice, and pigs, suggesting an important role during early embryo development. In this study, we used the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology to investigate the effect of XBP1 dysregulation during development of porcine embryos in vitro. Pig zygotes were produced by intracytoplasmic sperm injection using in vitro-matured oocytes. Treatments consisted of (a) Cas9 mRNA (Cas9) + 1 single guide RNAs targeting XBP1 gene region 1 (sgRNA-1); (b) Cas9 + 1 single guide RNAs targeting XBP1 gene region 2 (sgRNA-2); (c) Cas9 + sgRNA-1 + sgRNA-2; (d) Cas9 alone; and (e) sgRNA-1 + sgRNA-2. After injection, embryos were cultured in vitro for 5 to 7 days to assess development and cell numbers. Experiments were repeated 5 or more times, and data were analysed by ANOVA and means compared using Student’s t-test or Tukey–Kramer Honestly Significant Difference test. Embryo cleavage was similar between the groups (a = 59.8 ± 4.9%, b = 58.8 ± 5.3%, c = 68.86 ± 2.2%, d = 66.4 ± 5.9%, and e = 70.10 ± 1.9%), but development to the blastocyst stage was substantially reduced (P < 0.05) in the groups injected with Cas9 + sgRNAs (a = 18 ± 4.5%, b = 16 ± 1.5%, and c = 5.3 ± 2.8%) compared with controls (d = 33.7 ± 6.2% and e = 31.4 ± 1.2%). Moreover, we observed that only 22.7% of the embryos treated with Cas9 + sgRNA-1 + sgRNA-2 were able to develop beyond 8-cell stage compared with 62.5% in the control group injected with Cas9 alone. These findings suggest that XBP1 activity is required for maintenance of ER homeostasis and development of porcine embryos beyond the main period of embryo genome activation.