Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Of mice and men’s (and women’s) contraceptives

15.04.2005


Study of unique reproductive-cell protein in mice could lead to new contraceptives for women and men



Mice lacking a special protein found only in germ-line cells results in infertility in both males and females, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Norman Hecht, PhD, Professor of Human Reproduction in Penn’s Center for Research in Reproduction and Women’s Health, and colleagues say that these investigations point the way to a new type of contraceptive for both men and women. They report their findings in this week’s online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Not many proteins are expressed in both male and female germ lines that are specific only to the germ line," says Hecht. Germ line refers to the group of cells that give rise to either sperm or eggs in animals, as opposed to all other cell types, which are called somatic cells. "There are many proteins whose deletion will cause male infertility, and others for creating female infertility, but not many that will lead to both male and female infertility without affecting the somatic cells."


Animals deficient in the protein – called MSY2 – are infertile, but are otherwise healthy and completely normal. Male mice produce no functional sperm, and females show early loss of eggs and defects in ovulation.

The MSY2 protein is part of a family of proteins, called Y-box proteins, that are present in most organisms, ranging from bacteria to humans. In the nuclei of developing germ cells, MSY2 enhances synthesis of a select group of messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules and transports them from the nucleus into the cytoplasm. There, MSY2 proteins stabilize the mRNAs, which are used to make new proteins. Many of these proteins are critical for the production of normal sperm and also are unique to germ cells.

"When trying to develop a new contraceptive, it’s hard because we need to identify a target that’s specific to the germ cells," says Hecht. "Clearly, if we inactivate the function of a protein with a small inhibitory molecule, it can’t be a protein also active in such somatic tissues as brain, heart, liver, and so forth, only in the reproductive cells we want to target." Investigating germ cell molecules for contraception is also desirable because it frequently allows reversibility.

Hecht and colleagues have been proposing this scheme for the last several years, but how does the absence of the MSY2 protein result in male and female infertility? "We don’t know the complete mechanism yet, but it may be preventing the stabilization of specific messenger RNAs that need to be used at specific times as germ cells differentiate into mature sperm and eggs," explains Hecht. "An equally likely possibility is that the absence of MSY2 disrupts the timing of how specific mRNAs are used during germ cell differentiation. As cells become mature sperm, there’s a precise order of synthesis of many essential proteins needed to create functional gametes. We think the absence of the MSY2 protein causes problems in the timing of sperm or egg development. We’re working hard on understanding this mechanism."

A similar human equivalent of MSY2, Contrin, has been identified by the research group and their studies indicate it is also a germ cell-specific protein. Using MSY2 as a mouse model, Hecht and colleagues hope that Contrin can be developed as a new non-hormonal target for human contraception.

Karen Kreeger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uphs.upenn.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The birth of a new protein
20.10.2017 | University of Arizona

nachricht Building New Moss Factories
20.10.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Terahertz spectroscopy goes nano

20.10.2017 | Information Technology

Strange but true: Turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer

20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

NRL clarifies valley polarization for electronic and optoelectronic technologies

20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>