Cloning of an endangered species (Bos gaurus) using interspecies nuclear transfer.Cloning. 2000; 2(2):79-90.C
Approximately 100 species become extinct a day. Despite increasing interest in using cloning to rescue endangered species, successful interspecies nuclear transfer has not been previously described, and only a few reports of in vitro embryo formation exist. Here we show that interspecies nuclear transfer can be used to clone an endangered species with normal karyotypic and phenotypic development through implantation and the late stages of fetal growth. Somatic cells from a gaur bull (Bos gaurus), a large wild ox on the verge of extinction, (Species Survival Plan < 100 animals) were electrofused with enucleated oocytes from domestic cows. Twelve percent of the reconstructed oocytes developed to the blastocyst stage, and 18% of these embryos developed to the fetal stage when transferred to surrogate mothers. Three of the fetuses were electively removed at days 46 to 54 of gestation, and two continued gestation longer than 180 (ongoing) and 200 days, respectively. Microsatellite marker and cytogenetic analyses confirmed that the nuclear genome of the cloned animals was gaurus in origin. The gaur nuclei were shown to direct normal fetal development, with differentiation into complex tissue and organs, even though the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) within all the tissue types evaluated was derived exclusively from the recipient bovine oocytes. These results suggest that somatic cell cloning methods could be used to restore endangered, or even extinct, species and populations.