The effect of a metallothionein (MT) antisense oligodeoxynucleotide (ODN) on mouse preimplantation embryo development was investigated. Preimplantation embryos were cultured for 72 h and examined following exposure to either an MT antisense or sense ODN. Blastocyst formation (cavitation) and embryo cell number were lower in embryos exposed to the MT antisense ODN than in controls or in embryos exposed to the MT sense ODN. In embryos cultured in medium containing free nucleotides, cavitation frequency was not affected, although mean embryo cell number was lower than in controls. Combined, this work shows that an antisense ODN against MT can significantly affect blastocyst formation of preimplantation embryos; some, but not all, of the observed effects on embryo cell number may have been due to nucleotide toxicity.
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