Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Ready, Set, Sperm
20 January 2018

Ready, Set, Sperm

Male infertility contributes to around half of infertility cases. There are many reasons why men can be infertile, including the production of low-quality sperm, low sperm count or low levels of testosterone. Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 (PRC1) is a protein complex known to be involved, as its name suggests, in silencing the production of certain proteins from their gene. However, in a mouse model, PRC1 was found to change once males reached reproductive age and activate certain genes responsible for triggering fertile sperm. The change in PRC1 involved the addition of another protein called Sall4 (pictured in green in a testicular section) to initiate the timely production of fertile sperm. When PRC1 is disrupted in mice, they’re unable to produce healthy sperm nor, therefore, reproduce. This finding will help researchers to dig deeper into genetic factors affecting infertility.

Written by Katie Panteli

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