Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have discovered a cluster of 12 genes on the X chromosome in mice that appears to play an important role in reproduction. Reporting in the journal Cell, the scientists showed that knocking out just one of the genes resulted in reduced fertility in male mice.
The researchers found the cluster, which they dubbed the reproductive homeobox X-linked (or Rhox) genes, is selectively expressed in male and female reproductive tissues in adult mice.
Although the team cannot yet say that the discovery has any corollary to human biology, they already have found two versions of mouse Rhox genes on the human X chromosome - they are both expressed in human testes. "Little is known about the causes of human infertility, and that is why we are acutely interested in the Rhox findings," says the studys lead investigator, Miles Wilkinson, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Immunology. "Conversely, we are intrigued by the notion that these Rhox genes also might be useful tools for developing new contraceptive methods - either in men or women."
Nancy Jensen | EurekAlert!
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