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 How brains surrender to sleep
23.06.2017 | IMP - Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pathologie GmbH

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>