Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UT Southwestern researchers’ discovery may lead to gene targets for new form of contraceptive

02.12.2003


Deleting a particular ion channel from sperm cells causes those cells to lose the power needed for fertilization, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas found while expanding studies into male infertility.



These findings, which could eventually lead to more effective forms of contraception, are currently available online and will appear in the Dec. 9 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In studies on mice, disrupting a gene that contains a putative calcium-permeable ion channel – identified in earlier research as CatSper2 – did not change normal sperm cell production or basic sperm motility, or movement. It did, however, prevent the appearance of a stimulated form of sperm motility, called hyperactivation, normally seen near the time of fertilization. Sperm cells were, thus, incapable of generating the power needed to penetrate an egg cell’s extracellular matrix, or outer shell, which is necessary for fertilization.


"Basically this protein or ion channel plays a critical role in sperm cell hyperactivation, which is essential for fertilization," said Dr. Timothy Quill, first author of the study and an instructor of pharmacology and a researcher in the Cecil H. and Ida Green Center for Reproductive Biology Sciences. "The same protein exists in human sperm cells, so it is likely that disruption of CatSper2 would result in infertility in men as well. If a contraceptive drug could be designed that would bind to the protein and block its function, then those sperm cells would be rendered ineffective or infertile."

Such an ion channel-blocking contraceptive would likely be fast acting, Dr. Quill said. It also could have fewer side effects than other available contraceptives, as it would target a protein found only in sperm cells.

"Blocking the protein’s activity would not cause defects in the development of the sperm cell, but only prevent hyperactivation," he said. "This discovery could serve as one of the next steps in the process of creating a new type of contraceptive that would offer less risk and perform faster."

UT Southwestern researchers recently identified more than 350 genes that appear to be active in maturing sperm cells in mice. In a study published in the PNAS earlier this fall, researchers showed that, so far, 17 of those genes are necessary for normal male fertility. Because these genes appear to be active only in developing sperm, creating contraceptive drugs targeting these genes also could be a possibility.


Dr. David Garbers, director of the Green Center, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and senior author of both PNAS studies, is well-known for his investigations into how the egg and sperm communicate, research that led to his election to the National Academy of Sciences.

Other contributors to the most recent study, all from UT Southwestern, include Dr. Robert Hammer, professor of biochemistry and in the Green Center; Lynda Doolittle, research specialist for HHMI, and Sarah Sugden, research assistant in the Green Center.

The study was supported in part by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Institutes of Health.

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/utsw/cda/dept37326/files/37813.html

Donna Steph Hansard | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu
http://www.utsouthwestern.edu/utsw/cda/dept37326/files/37813.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution
27.03.2017 | Lancaster University

nachricht Parallel computation provides deeper insight into brain function
27.03.2017 | Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Northern oceans pumped CO2 into the atmosphere

27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fingerprint' technique spots frog populations at risk from pollution

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Big data approach to predict protein structure

27.03.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>