Cloning of non-human primates: the road "less traveled by"
Review | Published: 17 February 2011
Michelle L. Sparman1, Masahito Tachibana1 and Shoukhrat M. Mitalipov*,1,2,3
1Oregon National Primate Research Center, 2Oregon Stem Cell Center and 3Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Molecular & Medical Genetics, Oregon Health and Science University, Beaverton, OR, USA
Early studies on cloning of non-human primates by nuclear transfer utilized embryonic blastomeres from preimplantation embryos which resulted in the reproducible birth of live offspring. Soon after, the focus shifted to employing somatic cells as a source of donor nuclei (somatic cell nuclear transfer, SCNT). However, initial efforts were plagued with inefficient nuclear reprogramming and poor embryonic development when standard SCNT methods were utilized. Implementation of several key SCNT modifications was critical to overcome these problems. In particular, a non-invasive method of visualizing the metaphase chromosomes during enucleation was developed to preserve the reprogramming capacity of monkey oocytes. These modifications dramatically improved the efficiency of SCNT, yielding high blastocyst development in vitro. To date, SCNT has been successfully used to derive pluripotent embryonic stem cells (ESCs) from adult monkey skin fibroblasts. These remarkable advances have the potential for development of human autologous ESCs and cures for many human diseases. Reproductive cloning of nonhuman primates by SCNT has not been achieved yet. We have been able to establish several pregnancies with SCNT embryos which, so far, did not progress to term. In this review, we summarize the approaches, obstacles and accomplishments of SCNT in a non-human primate model.