Isolated blastomeres from 8- to 16-cell-stage embryos were fused by standard micromanipulatory means with either unfertilized eggs or fertilized or haploid parthenogenetically activated pronuclear-stage embryos. The hybrid eggs/embryos were incubated overnight in the presence of Colcemid until they had entered the first cleavage division. Air-dried chromosome preparations were then stained with silver nitrate in order to detect active nucleolar organizing regions (NOR). While control unfertilized eggs and 1-cell-stage fertilized and parthenogenetically activated embryos showed no evidence of silver-staining NOR-positive regions, the metaphase plates from 8- to 16-cell embryos showed characteristic NOR-positive regions, while their interphase nuclei also showed a characteristic reticular staining appearance. When hybrids between blastomere nuclei and unfertilized eggs were examined, none of the blastomere nuclei entered mitosis. However, when hybrids between blastomere nuclei and fertilized embryos were examined, in two thirds of the embryos, a single blastomere-derived diploid metaphase plate was present in association with two pronuclear-derived haploid metaphase plates. In most instances, the blastomere-derived chromosomes did not display silver-nitrate-staining NOR. Similar findings were observed when the blastomere-derived chromosomes in hybrids between blastomere nuclei and haploid parthenogenetic embryos were analysed. In the majority of cases, when blastomere nuclei remained in interphase, the characteristic silver-nitrate-staining fine reticular material either was not seen, or the nuclear contents were dispersed into clumps of chromatin-like material. Occasionally, the diploid chromosomes in the hybrids displayed morphological abnormalities. Our findings suggest that the cytoplasm of activated (but not nonactivated) 1-cell embryos is capable of influencing the nucleolar activity of the introduced 8- to 16-cell nuclei, effectively erasing from their chromosomes the memory of at least three previous rounds of rRNA synthesis.

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