Special Issue "Relevant Biomolecules for Germ Cells and Fertilization"

A special issue of Biomolecules (ISSN 2218-273X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Vanesa Robles
Website
Guest Editor
Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), Santander, 39012, Spain and MODCELL GROUP, Department of Molecular Biology, Universidad de León, 24071 León, Spain
Interests: reproductive and molecular biology; cryobiology; spermatology
Dr. Marta F. Riesco
Website
Guest Editor
Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), Santander, 39012, Spain
Interests: spermatology; germ cell specification and transplant; cryopreservation; molecular biomarkers; male reproduction
Dr. David G. Valcarce
Website
Guest Editor
Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), Santander, 39012, Spain
Interests: spermatology; probiotics; sperm quality; molecular biology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The field of reproduction has experimented important advances during the last years. The discovery of novel germ cell biomarkers, the potential of some bioactive substances in reproduction, and the development of new assays to evaluate the effect of techniques such as cryopreservation or PGC xenotransplantation on germ cell biomolecules, are only some of the fascinating advances achieved in the field. With this special topic-focused compilation on “Relevant biomolecules for germ cells and fertilization”, freely accessible online from all over the world, we would like to provide to a general audience with a large overview of the present state of our knowledge on this field. Our objective is to assemble a series of reviews or original articles in which everyone could find up-to-date information on the different issues directly connected to this topic.

We are thus welcoming any manuscript on 1) the role of germ cell proteins, coding, and non-coding RNAs as reproductive biomarkers, 2) the use of antioxidant or other bioactive molecules in reproduction, 3) the impact of biotechnologies on germ cells, and 4) the importance of crucial biomolecules for primordial germ cell specification and for gamete quality.

Dr. Vanesa Robles
Dr. Marta F. Riesco
Dr. David G. Valcarce
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Biomolecules is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • germ cells
  • gamete quality
  • cryopreservation
  • biomarkers
  • antioxidants

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessCommunication
Enhanced Enrichment of Medaka Ovarian Germline Stem Cells by a Combination of Density Gradient Centrifugation and Differential Plating
Biomolecules 2020, 10(11), 1477; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10111477 - 24 Oct 2020
Abstract
Fish ovarian germline stem cells (OGSCs) have great potential in various biological fields due to their ability to generate large numbers of mature eggs. Therefore, selective enrichment of OGSCs is a prerequisite for successful applications. To determine the optimal conditions for the enrichment [...] Read more.
Fish ovarian germline stem cells (OGSCs) have great potential in various biological fields due to their ability to generate large numbers of mature eggs. Therefore, selective enrichment of OGSCs is a prerequisite for successful applications. To determine the optimal conditions for the enrichment of OGSCs from Japanese medaka (Oryzias latipes), we evaluated the effects of Percoll density gradient centrifugation (PDGC), differential plating (DP), and a combination of both methods. Based on cell morphology and gene expression of germ cell-specific Vasa and OGSC-specific Nanos2, we demonstrated that of seven density fractions obtained following PDGC, the 30–35% density fraction contained the highest proportion of OGSCs, and that Matrigel was the most effective biomolecule for the enrichment of Oryzias latipes OGSCs by DP in comparison to laminin, fibronectin, gelatin, and poly-l-lysine. Furthermore, we confirmed that PDGC and DP in combination significantly enhanced the efficiency of OGSC enrichment. The enriched cells were able to localize in the gonadal region at a higher efficiency compared to non-enriched ovarian cells when transplanted into the developing larvae. Our approach provides an efficient way to enrich OGSCs without using OGSC-specific surface markers or transgenic strains expressing OGSC-specific reporter proteins. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relevant Biomolecules for Germ Cells and Fertilization)
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Open AccessArticle
Cortisol Directly Stimulates Spermatogonial Differentiation, Meiosis, and Spermiogenesis in Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Testicular Explants
Biomolecules 2020, 10(3), 429; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10030429 - 10 Mar 2020
Abstract
Cortisol is the major endocrine factor mediating the inhibitory effects of stress on vertebrate reproduction. It is well known that cortisol affects reproduction by interacting with the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonads axis, leading to downstream inhibitory and stimulatory effects on gonads. However, the mechanisms are not [...] Read more.
Cortisol is the major endocrine factor mediating the inhibitory effects of stress on vertebrate reproduction. It is well known that cortisol affects reproduction by interacting with the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonads axis, leading to downstream inhibitory and stimulatory effects on gonads. However, the mechanisms are not fully understood. In this study, we provide novel data demonstrating the stimulatory effects of cortisol on spermatogenesis using an ex vivo organ culture system. The results revealed that cortisol treatment did not modulate basal androgen production, but it influenced transcript levels of a selected number of genes involved in the zebrafish testicular function ar (androgen receptor), star (steroidogenic acute regulatory), cyp17a1 (17α-hydroxylase/17,20 lyase/17,20 desmolase), cyp11a2 (cytochrome P450, family 11, subfamily A, polypeptide 2), hsd11b2 (11-beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase), cyp2k22 (cytochrome P450, family 2, subfamily K, polypeptide 22), fkbp5 (FKBP prolyl isomerase 5), grα (glucocorticoid receptor alpha), and grβ (glucocorticoid receptor beta) in a short-term culture. We also showed that cortisol stimulates spermatogonial proliferation and differentiation in an androgen independent manner as well as promoting meiosis and spermiogenesis by increasing the number of spermatozoa in the testes. Moreover, we demonstrated that concomitant treatment with RU 486, a potent glucocorticoid receptor (Gr) antagonist, did not affect the cortisol effects on spermatogonial differentiation but blocked the induced effects on meiosis and spermiogenesis. Supporting the Gr-mediated effects, RU 486 nullified the cortisol-induced expression of sycp3l (synaptonemal complex protein 3), a marker for the meiotic prophase that encodes a component of the synaptonemal complex. This is consistent with in silico analysis that found 10 putative GREs (glucocorticoid response elements) upstream of the zebrafish sycp3l. Finally, we also showed that grα mRNA is expressed in Sertoli and Leydig cells, but also in several types of germ cells, including spermatogonia and spermatocytes. Altogether, this evidence indicates that cortisol exerts paracrine roles in the zebrafish testicular function and spermatogenesis, highlighting its effects on spermatogonial differentiation, meiosis, and spermiogenesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relevant Biomolecules for Germ Cells and Fertilization)
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Open AccessArticle
Gametogenesis-Related Fluctuations in Ovothiol Levels in the Mantle of Mussels from Different Estuaries: Fighting Oxidative Stress for Spawning in Polluted Waters
Biomolecules 2020, 10(3), 373; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10030373 - 28 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Reactive oxygen species present a challenge for marine organisms releasing gametes into the water. Thiol-containing molecules protect cells against oxidative stress, and ovothiol (OSH), an antioxidant-reducing mercaptohistidine, has been described as especially relevant in the oocytes of marine invertebrates. Ovothiol synthase (ovoA [...] Read more.
Reactive oxygen species present a challenge for marine organisms releasing gametes into the water. Thiol-containing molecules protect cells against oxidative stress, and ovothiol (OSH), an antioxidant-reducing mercaptohistidine, has been described as especially relevant in the oocytes of marine invertebrates. Ovothiol synthase (ovoA), in charge of the first step in OSH synthesis, was sequenced in mussels, Mytilus galloprovincialis. Transcription levels of ovoA in mantle did not significantly change along the reproductive cycle. No alterations of ovoA transcription were observed after a laboratory copper (10 µg/L) exposure or in mussels captured in a highly polluted site. Conversely, the metabolomic analysis of the hydrophilic metabolite content in mantle clearly classified mussels according to their site of origin, especially at the most advanced stages of oogenesis. Quantification of OSH-A and -B and glutathione (GSH), revealed stable levels in mantle at early gametogenesis in the unpolluted sampling site, but a strong increase in female mantle previous to spawning in the polluted site. These increased concentrations under pollution suggest that OSH-A accumulates along oogenesis, independent of gene transcription regulation. The concerted accumulation of OSH-A and GSH suggests the building of a balanced cellular redox-system to scavenge ROS produced in the oocyte before and during fertilization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relevant Biomolecules for Germ Cells and Fertilization)
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Open AccessArticle
Comparative Analysis of MicroRNA and mRNA Profiles of Sperm with Different Freeze Tolerance Capacities in Boar (Sus scrofa) and Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
Biomolecules 2019, 9(9), 432; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9090432 - 01 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Post-thawed sperm quality parameters vary across different species after cryopreservation. To date, the molecular mechanism of sperm cryoinjury, freeze-tolerance and other influential factors are largely unknown. In this study, significantly dysregulated microRNAs (miRNAs) and mRNAs in boar and giant panda sperm with different [...] Read more.
Post-thawed sperm quality parameters vary across different species after cryopreservation. To date, the molecular mechanism of sperm cryoinjury, freeze-tolerance and other influential factors are largely unknown. In this study, significantly dysregulated microRNAs (miRNAs) and mRNAs in boar and giant panda sperm with different cryo-resistance capacity were evaluated. From the result of miRNA profile of fresh and frozen-thawed giant panda sperm, a total of 899 mature, novel miRNAs were identified, and 284 miRNAs were found to be significantly dysregulated (195 up-regulated and 89 down-regulated). Combined analysis of miRNA profiling of giant panda sperm and our previously published data on boar sperm, 46, 21 and 4 differentially expressed (DE) mRNAs in boar sperm were believed to be related to apoptosis, glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation, respectively. Meanwhile, 87, 17 and 7 DE mRNAs in giant panda were associated with apoptosis, glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation, respectively. Gene ontology (GO) analysis of the targets of DE miRNAs showed that they were mainly distributed on membrane related pathway in giant panda sperm, while cell components and cell processes were tied to the targets of DE miRNAs in boar sperm. Finally, Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analysis of DE mRNAs indicated that most of these DE mRNAs were distributed in membrane signal transduction-related pathways in giant panda sperm, while those in boar sperm were mainly distributed in the cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction pathway and inflammatory related pathways. In conclusion, although the different freezing extenders and programs were used, the DE miRNAs and mRNAs involved in apoptosis, energy metabolism, olfactory transduction pathway, inflammatory response and cytokine-cytokine interactions, could be the possible molecular mechanism of sperm cryoinjury and freeze tolerance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relevant Biomolecules for Germ Cells and Fertilization)
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Open AccessArticle
Long Exposure to a Diet Supplemented with Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Probiotics Improves Sperm Quality and Progeny Survival in the Zebrafish Model
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 338; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080338 - 03 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
The aim of the present experiment is to study the effects of oral ingestion of a mixture of two probiotic bacteria on sperm quality and progenies. Three homogeneous groups of juvenile zebrafish were created. Once having reached adulthood (3 months postfertilization; mpf), each [...] Read more.
The aim of the present experiment is to study the effects of oral ingestion of a mixture of two probiotic bacteria on sperm quality and progenies. Three homogeneous groups of juvenile zebrafish were created. Once having reached adulthood (3 months postfertilization; mpf), each group received different feeding regimens: a standard diet (control), a maltodextrin-supplemented diet (vehicle control), or a probiotic-supplemented diet (a mixture (1:1) of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CECT8361 and Bifidobacterium longum CECT7347). The feeding regime lasted 4.5 months. Growth parameters (weight and length) were determined at 3, 5, and 7.5 mpf. Sperm motility was evaluated using computer-assisted sperm analysis at 5 and 7.5 mpf. Progeny survival, hatching rate, and malformation rate were also evaluated. Results showed that probiotic-supplemented diet improved growth parameters compared with the standard diet. The highest percentage of motile spermatozoa was reported in the probiotic-fed group. Concomitantly, the percentage of fast sperm subpopulation was significantly lower in samples derived from control males. Furthermore, there was a significant difference in progeny survival between the probiotic-fed group and the control group at three developmental times (24 hours postfertilization (hpf), 5 days postfertilization (dpf) and 7 dpf). In conclusion, in zebrafish, prolonged ingestion of a mixture of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CECT8361 and Bifidobacterium longum CECT7347 has positive effects on growth, sperm quality, and progeny survival. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relevant Biomolecules for Germ Cells and Fertilization)
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Open AccessCommunication
Delivery of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles into Primordial Germ Cells in Sturgeon
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 333; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080333 - 01 Aug 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Nanoparticles are finding increasing applications in diagnostics, imaging and therapeutics in medicine. Iron oxide nanoparticles (IONs) have received significant interest of scientific community due to their distinctive properties. For the first time, we have delivered IONs into germ cells in any species. Our [...] Read more.
Nanoparticles are finding increasing applications in diagnostics, imaging and therapeutics in medicine. Iron oxide nanoparticles (IONs) have received significant interest of scientific community due to their distinctive properties. For the first time, we have delivered IONs into germ cells in any species. Our results showed that sturgeon primordial germ cells (PGCs) delivered with IONs could be detected until seven days post fertilization (dpf) under fluorescent microscope and at 22 dpf by micro-CT. Delivery of IONs into cells could be helpful for studying germ cell biology and the improvement of germ cell-based bio-technologies as isolation of PGCs using magnetic activated cell sorting or application of hyperthermia for a host sterilization purpose. Intriguingly, in our study, we did not find any toxic effects of IONs on the survival and hatching rates of sturgeon embryos when compared with embryos injected with FITC-dextran only. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relevant Biomolecules for Germ Cells and Fertilization)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Embryonic Exposure to Bisphenol A Impairs Primordial Germ Cell Migration without Jeopardizing Male Breeding Capacity
Biomolecules 2019, 9(8), 307; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9080307 - 25 Jul 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
A large amount of chemicals are released to the environment each year. Among them, bisphenol A (BPA) is of utmost concern since it interferes with the reproductive system of wild organisms due to its capacity to bind to hormone receptors. Additionally, BPA epigenotoxic [...] Read more.
A large amount of chemicals are released to the environment each year. Among them, bisphenol A (BPA) is of utmost concern since it interferes with the reproductive system of wild organisms due to its capacity to bind to hormone receptors. Additionally, BPA epigenotoxic activity is known to affect basic processes during embryonic life. However, its effects on primordial germ cells (PGCs) proliferation and migration, both mechanisms being crucial for gametogenesis, remain unknown. To investigate the effects of BPA on PGCs migration and eventual testicle development, zebrafish embryos were exposed to 100, 2000 and 4000 µg/L BPA during the first 24 h of development. Vasa immunostaining of PGCs revealed that exposure to 2000 and 4000 µg/L BPA impaired their migration to the genital ridge. Two pivotal genes of PGCs migration (cxcr4b and sdf1a) were highly dysregulated in embryos exposed to these doses, whereas DNA methylation and epigenetic marks in PGCs and their surrounding somatic cells were not altered. Once embryos reached adulthood, the morphometric study of their gonads revealed that, despite the reduced number of PGCs which colonized the genital ridges, normal testicles were developed. Although H3K9ac decreased in the sperm from treated fishes, it did not affect the progeny development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relevant Biomolecules for Germ Cells and Fertilization)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Vitamin K in Vertebrates’ Reproduction: Further Puzzling Pieces of Evidence from Teleost Fish Species
Biomolecules 2020, 10(9), 1303; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10091303 - 09 Sep 2020
Abstract
Vitamin K (VK) is a fat-soluble vitamin that vertebrates have to acquire from the diet, since they are not able to de novo synthesize it. VK has been historically known to be required for the control of blood coagulation, and more recently, bone [...] Read more.
Vitamin K (VK) is a fat-soluble vitamin that vertebrates have to acquire from the diet, since they are not able to de novo synthesize it. VK has been historically known to be required for the control of blood coagulation, and more recently, bone development and homeostasis. Our understanding of the VK metabolism and the VK-related molecular pathways has been also increased, and the two main VK-related pathways—the pregnane X receptor (PXR) transactivation and the co-factor role on the γ-glutamyl carboxylation of the VK dependent proteins—have been thoroughly investigated during the last decades. Although several studies evidenced how VK may have a broader VK biological function than previously thought, including the reproduction, little is known about the specific molecular pathways. In vertebrates, sex differentiation and gametogenesis are tightly regulated processes through a highly complex molecular, cellular and tissue crosstalk. Here, VK metabolism and related pathways, as well as how gametogenesis might be impacted by VK nutritional status, will be reviewed. Critical knowledge gaps and future perspectives on how the different VK-related pathways come into play on vertebrate’s reproduction will be identified and proposed. The present review will pave the research progress to warrant a successful reproductive status through VK nutritional interventions as well as towards the establishment of reliable biomarkers for determining proper nutritional VK status in vertebrates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relevant Biomolecules for Germ Cells and Fertilization)
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Open AccessReview
Spermatogonial Stem Cells in Fish: Characterization, Isolation, Enrichment, and Recent Advances of In Vitro Culture Systems
Biomolecules 2020, 10(4), 644; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10040644 - 22 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Spermatogenesis is a continuous and dynamic developmental process, in which a single diploid spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) proliferates and differentiates to form a mature spermatozoon. Herein, we summarize the accumulated knowledge of SSCs and their distribution in the testes of teleosts. We also [...] Read more.
Spermatogenesis is a continuous and dynamic developmental process, in which a single diploid spermatogonial stem cell (SSC) proliferates and differentiates to form a mature spermatozoon. Herein, we summarize the accumulated knowledge of SSCs and their distribution in the testes of teleosts. We also reviewed the primary endocrine and paracrine influence on spermatogonium self-renewal vs. differentiation in fish. To provide insight into techniques and research related to SSCs, we review available protocols and advances in enriching undifferentiated spermatogonia based on their unique physiochemical and biochemical properties, such as size, density, and differential expression of specific surface markers. We summarize in vitro germ cell culture conditions developed to maintain proliferation and survival of spermatogonia in selected fish species. In traditional culture systems, sera and feeder cells were considered to be essential for SSC self-renewal, in contrast to recently developed systems with well-defined media and growth factors to induce either SSC self-renewal or differentiation in long-term cultures. The establishment of a germ cell culture contributes to efficient SSC propagation in rare, endangered, or commercially cultured fish species for use in biotechnological manipulation, such as cryopreservation and transplantation. Finally, we discuss organ culture and three-dimensional models for in vitro investigation of fish spermatogenesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relevant Biomolecules for Germ Cells and Fertilization)
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Open AccessReview
New Opportunities for Endometrial Health by Modifying Uterine Microbial Composition: Present or Future?
Biomolecules 2020, 10(4), 593; https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10040593 - 11 Apr 2020
Abstract
Current knowledge suggests that the uterus harbours its own microbiota, where the microbes could influence the uterine functions in health and disease; however, the core uterine microbial composition and the host-microbial relationships remain to be fully elucidated. Different studies are indicating, based on [...] Read more.
Current knowledge suggests that the uterus harbours its own microbiota, where the microbes could influence the uterine functions in health and disease; however, the core uterine microbial composition and the host-microbial relationships remain to be fully elucidated. Different studies are indicating, based on next-generation sequencing techniques, that microbial dysbiosis could be associated with several gynaecological disorders, such as endometriosis, chronic endometritis, dysfunctional menstrual bleeding, endometrial cancer, and infertility. Treatments using antibiotics and probiotics and/or prebiotics for endometrial microbial dysbiosis are being applied. Nevertheless there is no unified protocol for assessing the endometrial dysbiosis and no optimal treatment protocol for the established dysbiosis. With this review we outline the microbes (mostly bacteria) identified in the endometrial microbiome studies, the current treatments offered for bacterial dysbiosis in the clinical setting, and the future possibilities such as pro- and prebiotics and microbial transplants for modifying uterine microbial composition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Relevant Biomolecules for Germ Cells and Fertilization)
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