New Gene Involved in Male Fertility

It is estimated that approximately 30% of men have reduced fertility and 2% are totally infertile. Despite these large numbers relatively little is know about the molecular bases of male infertility. On the flip side of male infertility is the need for male contraception. Currently there are no reversible, convenient male contraceptives available. In order to develop male contraceptives and acquire a greater understanding of male fertility there is a need to develop animal models to study the molecular basis and pathways that regulate and control male fertility. Vanderbilt researchers have developed a model mouse system to study male fertility. There research focuses on the epididymus, which is the area that spermatozoa acquire the ability to move and fertilize. For this region to be functional tissue and cell specific gene regulation must occur. These investigators have discovered one such gene regulated within this area, mEP17. These researchers can fuse either mouse or human EP17 or just the regulatory regions of either EP17 to reporter genes and the resulting fusion can be used to screen for substances that regulate this gene and affect male fertility. This system becomes a powerful tool to identify drugs which affect this gene and be potential male contraceptives. In addition polypeptides generated to this gene may be used as vaccines for male contraceptives.
Marie-Claire Orgebin-CristRobert MatusikJean-Jacques Lareyre
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Jody Hankins

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