Gatekeeper found which controls sperm production


Researchers from Yale University have discovered how the “guardian of the genome” administers quality control in sperm production. It may also be the key to showing how quality control is maintained in other types of cells as well.

The research is ground breaking and broad in its scope. The discovery opens up the potential of developing new forms of birth control and fertility treatments. It may even be the start of new ways to treat many forms of cancer.

The key regulatory gene in all of this is call p53. Sperm and other cells go through a quality control check which is triggered by p53. If there is any damaged DNA detected the cell is destroyed. Because of this intolerance for imperfect, the p53 cell has been called the “guardian of the genome”. It is so important that damage to p53 has been implicated in many types of cancer.

By studying sperm production in mice, researchers have found p53 supervisor. “We have identified p53’s new boss, which controls p53 in a way that had been hypothesized before but had not been shown in any animal,” said Haifan Lin, professor cell biology and of genetics, director of the Yale Stem Cell Center and senior author of the study.

They discovered a regulator called Pumilo 1 which controls key micro-RNA molecules that interact with p53 in sperm production. Researchers were able to observe the effect Pumilo 1 had on p53, sending into hyperdrive and causing it to actually reduce sperm production by becoming too selective and destroying too many sperm.

“This is a crucial gate-keeping mechanism which allows bad cells, but not good cells, to be killed,” Lin said. “This same process may be at play in other tissues, such as cancer.”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Current Biology


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