Fine-structural cytochemical and immunocytochemical observations on nuclear bodies in the bovine 2-cell embryo

V. Kopečný, M. Biggiogera, J. Pivko, A. Pavlok, T. E. Martin, S. H. Kaufmann, J. H. Shaper, S. Fakan

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5 Scopus citations


Nuclear bodies occuring during the 2-cell stage of bovine embryos (obtained either by in vitro fertilisation of in vitro matured ovarian oocytes, or collection after fertilisation and cleavage in vivo) were studied using ultrastructural cytochemistry and immunocytochemistry to determine whether their occurrence may be linked with the onset of embryonic transcription. In addition, the species-specific ultrastructural features of the interchromatin structures of the 2-cell bovine embryo were displayed. Three different types of nuclear bodies were distinguished: (i) nucleolus precursor bodies (NPBs), (ii) loose bodies (LBs) and (iii) dense bodies (DBs). In order to determine their possible functional significance, we considered parallels between these three nuclear entities and interchromatin compartments reported in other cells. As detected by their preferential ribonucleoprotein staining, all types of nuclear bodies contained ribonucleoproteins. In contrast to the other types of nuclear bodies studied, NPBs contained argyrophilic proteins but in no case they did show morphological features of functional nucleoli. Both compact and vacuolated forms of NPBs were seen in both in vivo and in vitro embryos, sometimes simultaneously in the same nucleus. LBs and DBs reacted with antibodies to Sm antigen, indicating the presence of a group of nucleoplasmic, non-nucleolar small nuclear ribonucleoproteins (snRNPs). The immunoreactivity for Sm antigen was more intense and homogeneous in DBs than in LBs. DBs were seen in both categories of embryo. A possible kinship of DBs with the sphere organelle known from oocytes of different animal species or the prominent spherical inclusions of the early mouse embryo nuclei is suggested. The last type of intranuclear body, the LBs, showed a composite structure. Their granular component, occurring in clusters and displaying immunoreactivity for Sm antigen, was similar to interchromatin granules and was therefore named IG-like granules. Another component forming the LBs showed a much finer structure and a lower immunoreactivity with anti-Sm antibodies. We suggest that this amorphous component may be related to the IG-associated zone. All three types of intranuclear bodies were often seen close together, suggesting their possible mutual functional relationship. From these and other observations we conclude that the intranuclear bodies in 2-cell bovine embryos correspond, with the exception of the NPB, to similar structures/compartments supposed to accumulate inactive spliceosomal components in certain phases of somatic cell nucleus functions. Accordingly, the occurrence of such nuclear bodies does not represent cytological evidence for RNA synthesis. In contrast to this, an important morphological feature revealing the status of the bovine 2-cell embryo is the vacuolisation of the NPB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-328
Number of pages14
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2000


  • Bovine 2-cell embryo
  • Fine-structural cytochemistry
  • Immunoelectron microscopy
  • Nuclear bodies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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