Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Telling Tails

Role of protein called CEP128 in healthy sperm development revealed

22 April 2022

Telling Tails

Building a new cell – or a new life – requires patterns of genes and proteins to work together. A mutation to a single gene can have a massive impact on this team effort. Compared to the healthy sperm on the left, those on the right – donated by two brothers with the same genetic mutation – haven’t formed correctly. Researchers find their mutation changes a single amino acid – one of thousands that make a protein called CEP128. This ‘tiny’ change has big knock-on effects – CEP128 usually helps to form the centrosome – a sort of molecular compass that cells use to guide development. Faulty CEP128 leads to developmental problems with sperm’s tail-like flagella. Investigating further in mice, the team reveal disrupting the balance of healthy CEP128 – having too little or even too much – snarls up the working of spermatogenesis which in turn leads to infertility, making centrosome proteins an interesting target for future treatments.

Written by John Ankers

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