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At this time, advances in reproductive technologies involving farm animals, primarily sheep and cattle, allowed animal scientists to adapt such techniques as embryo splitting and blastomere cloning with a focus on improving production efficiencies and genetic advancement, in addition to asking questions about developmental plasticity.
Domestic animals can be cloned using techniques such as embryo splitting and nuclear transfer to produce genetically identical individuals.
Although embryo splitting is limited to the production of only a few identical individuals, nuclear transfer of donor nuclei into recipient oocytes, whose own nuclear DNA has been removed, can result in large numbers of identical individuals.
The fact that such a complex procedure works at all is amazing and is the result of decades of pioneering research.
In this review, the historical work in domestic species leading up to the development of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), along with the practical applications of this technology, will be discussed.
In addition to providing a means of rescuing and propagating valuable genetics, somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) research has contributed knowledge that has led to the direct reprogramming of cells (e.g., to induce pluripotent stem cells) and a better understanding of epigenetic regulation during embryonic development.
In this review, I provide a broad overview of the historical development of cloning in domestic animals, of its application to the propagation of livestock and transgenic animal production, and of its scientific promise for advancing basic research.This reconstructed oocyte is activated to continue embryonic development.Embryos resulting from this procedure can result in the production of a live, genetically identical individual after transfer into a recipient, although at a relative low efficiency (Table 1).Pioneering studies in the 1950s and 1960s in frogs demonstrated that nuclei from embryos up to the tadpole stage were capable of directing normal development, resulting in adult individuals, but that nuclei from adult tissues were able to direct development only to the tadpole stage (10, 11).Despite the failure to obtain adult individuals after nuclear transfer of adult cells, the studies did demonstrate the developmental plasticity of differentiated, somatic cell nuclei.How much have we diverged from nature’s method of cloning?Even omitting most other forms of plant and animal life and focusing on vertebrates—animals with backbones—examples of clones abound in nature.In cell biology, it is the propagation of a progenitor cell to obtain a population of genetically identical cells whereas, in animal biology, cloning refers to the production of genetic copies of individual animals using nuclear transfer.Advanced reproductive methods involving microsurgery, embryo culture, and transfer into recipients (surrogate mothers) are required to produce animal clones (Fig. More specifically, a nucleus from a cell of the donor individual is inserted into an oocyte whose own nuclear DNA has been removed (enucleation).As illustrated below, basic research regarding the biological mechanisms of SCNT has led to scientific advances in the areas of reprogramming, cell fate determination, and epigenetic regulation during development.Moreover, as discussed in the following sections, SCNT in domestic animals will continue to provide promising scientific and practical insights through its application to transgenic and biomedical models.