Improvement of bovine semen quality by removal of membrane-damaged sperm cells with DNA aptamers and magnetic nanoparticles
•DNA aptamers recognize membrane-damaged bovine sperm cells.•Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles remove aptamer-bound damaged cells from sperm suspensions.•Improved semen quality was achieved in both unsorted and sex-sorted bovine sperm suspensions.•Removal of damaged sperm cells with DNA aptamers and nanoparticles does not affect embryo development.
In cattle, cryopreservation of semen and sex-sorting kill up to 50% of spermatozoa and decrease the success of assisted insemination (AI). Therefore, significant efforts are being carried out to improve the quality of semen prior to AI. In this work we used the Cell-SELEX technique to select single strand DNA aptamers able to recognize with high affinity and specificity damaged sperm cells generated by heat-treatment. We first isolated aptamers with a conserved two motifs of 6 nucleotides of length that bind to the membrane of heat-treated spermatozoa. Then, we used synthetic biotin-labeled aptamers containing the conserved motif to recognize membrane-damaged cells and separate them from viable cells by the use of avidin-coated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION). This procedure improved the quality of semen by significantly increasing the percentage of healthy sperm cells without affecting the rate of blastocyst cleavage. This technique was successfully applied to both unsorted and sex-sorted sperm suspension.
Journal: Journal of Biotechnology - Volume 229, 10 July 2016, Pages 33–41