Possible genetic factor of male infertility identified

In the study, published online in the first edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of Sept. 14, the team reported that male mice lacking a protein called meiosis expressed gene 1 MEIG1 were infertile because of impaired spermiogenesis process which includes changes in the sperm head and tail formation.Sperm are produced in the testicles by a three-step process called spermatogenesis. During the final phase, known as spermiogenesis, many changes occur, including the packaging of DNA in the sperm head and formation of the sperm tail, which drives the sperm towards the egg.

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine researchers have discovered a gene involved in sperm production that may contribute to male infertility and lead to new approaches to male contraception.

We found that MEIG1 is essential for male fertility. In addition, our results reveal a crucial role in MEIG1/PACRG partnership based on a structure that is unique to sperm, the title. The absence of a normal phone in mice lacking MEIG1 totally interrupts the maturation of sperm, said Strauss.

One in six couples trying to conceive a child is suffering from infertility, according to the American Association of fertility, and in about half of these cases, a male factor is present. Sperm defects are often considered the main cause or causes.

Besides having an impact on fertility, the discovery identifies a new target for drug discovery for a much needed reversible contraceptive for men, he said.