Study Uncovers More Clues Regarding Male Infertility

couple-ChristianGonzalez-flickr.jpg

Researchers have pinpointed the primary molecular and genetic switch that triggers the production of healthy male sperm, when the time is right.

The switch is Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 (PRC1), a protein complex that activates certain germline genes, and the manufacture of healthy sperm. Germline refers to a series of cells where each is developed from earlier cells in the series.

Male mammals are born with enough reproductive germline cells to help create fertile sperm, but the sperm is not fertile during childhood. That’s because PRC1 puts a damper on the activation of fertile sperm manufacture until a male reaches puberty.

In their laboratory study, the researchers were surprised to find the PRC1 protein complex altered when mice reached reproductive age. It sloughed off germline gene components that inhibit sperm creation, and substituted in a component called Sall4 to initiate fertile sperm production, or spermatogenesis.

In mice bred without PRC1 the animals had smaller testes and failed to produce healthy sperm, or offspring.

“A long-standing question has been how reproductive germline genes are activated in a precise and timely manner. Our study answers this fundamental question by identifying novel epigenetic machinery that directs timely activation of spermatogenesis,” said lead investigator Satoshi Namekawa, Ph.D., Division of Reproductive Sciences at the Cincinnati Children's Perinatal Institute. “This has a very high impact because we found that this repressor of sperm production, PRC1, has a new function by promoting gene activation to make sperm when the time comes.”

The researchers have yet to discover how or why PRC1 drops its suppressor role to become a sperm activator. Questions also remain about how lifestyle or environmental factors effect the suppression and activation of reproductive genes, and whether PRC1 or Sall4 might be reliable biomarkers for male infertility.

Since Namekawa and others have determined that disrupted reproductive germline cells can be passed on to future generations, the incentive for answering all remaining questions is strong.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: Christian Gonzalez


 
disclaimer

The information provided on ConceivingConcepts.com is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her health professional. This information is solely for informational and educational purposes. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Neither the owners or employees of ConceivingConcepts.com nor the author(s) of site content take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading this site. Always speak with your primary health care provider before engaging in any form of self treatment. See our Legal Statement for more details.

Fertility Clinics Directory

Find a Fertility Clinic

If you or a loved one is suffering from infertility and needs help conceiving then we are here to offer help in any way we can. We have over 450 Fertility Clinics listed on our Directory. Click here to search for a Fertility Clinic that is right for you.