Early preimplantation mouse embryos are sensitive to increased osmolarity, which can block their development. To overcome this, they accumulate organic osmolytes to maintain cell volume. The main organic osmolyte used by early mouse embryos is glycine. Glycine is transported during the mature egg and 1-cell to 4-cell embryo stages by a transporter identified as GLYT1, encoded by the Slc6a9 gene. Here, we have produced an oocyte-specific knockout of Slc6a9 by crossing mice that have a segment of the gene flanked by LoxP elements with transgenic mice expressing iCre driven by the oocyte-specific Gdf9 promoter. Slc6a9 null oocytes failed to develop glycine transport activity during meiotic maturation. However, females with these oocytes were fertile. When enclosed in their cumulus-oocyte complex, Slc6a9 null oocytes could accumulate glycine via GLYT1 transport in their coupled cumulus cells, which may support female fertility in vivo. In vitro, embryos derived from Slc6a9 null oocytes displayed a clear phenotype. While glycine rescued complete preimplantation development of wild type embryos from increased osmolarity, embryos derived from null oocytes failed to develop past the 2-cell stage even with glycine. Thus, Slc6a9 is required for glycine transport and protection against increased osmolarity in mouse eggs and early embryos.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- cell volume
- preimplantation embryo