A new gene that controls the completion of meiosis in spermatogenesis has been discovered by researchers from Kumamoto University in Japan. The researchers believe that this may lead to an advancement in reproductive medicine, like identifying causes for infertility from azoospermia or spermatogenic defects.
Meiosis is the special type of cell division that takes place in the ovaries and testes to produce eggs and sperm by reducing the number chromosomes to half the original. After meiosis is complete, DNA continues to be highly condensed and undergoes major morphological changes that are characteristic of spermiogenesis. This process inactivates the expression of many genes that were previously active in carrying out meiosis in spermiogenesis. However, the details of the mechanism that completes the meiotic program at the appropriate time are unknown, and although this is an important issue that is directly related to reproductive medicine, such as male infertility, it has remained an unresolved issue many years.
Professor Ishiguro’s group at Kumamoto University’s Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics (IMEG) previously discovered MEIOSIN, a gene that switches on meiosis and causes hundreds of genes involved in sperm and egg formation to activate simultaneously.
Although these results were verified in mice, this gene also exists in humans. The researchers believe that their research can be applied to the development of infertility treatment technology. By elucidating the functions of other genes in the process of egg and sperm formation, they hope to make a significant contribution to reproductive medicine.