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Pregnancy Timeline by SemestersFemale Reproductive SystemFertilizationThe Appearance of SomitesFirst TrimesterSecond TrimesterThird TrimesterFetal liver is producing blood cellsHead may position into pelvisBrain convolutions beginFull TermWhite fat begins to be madeWhite fat begins to be madeHead may position into pelvisImmune system beginningImmune system beginningPeriod of rapid brain growthBrain convolutions beginLungs begin to produce surfactantSensory brain waves begin to activateSensory brain waves begin to activateInner Ear Bones HardenBone marrow starts making blood cellsBone marrow starts making blood cellsBrown fat surrounds lymphatic systemFetal sexual organs visibleFinger and toe prints appearFinger and toe prints appearHeartbeat can be detectedHeartbeat can be detectedBasic Brain Structure in PlaceThe Appearance of SomitesFirst Detectable Brain WavesA Four Chambered HeartBeginning Cerebral HemispheresEnd of Embryonic PeriodEnd of Embryonic PeriodFirst Thin Layer of Skin AppearsThird TrimesterDevelopmental Timeline
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October 11, 2012--------News Archive Return to: News Alerts


Mutations in RABL2, resulting in sperm tails that were 17 per cent shorter than normal,
decrease sperm count and sperm swimming ability, it may be possible to inhibit
this protein in a future male pill.

WHO Child Growth Charts

       

Fertility Discovery a Sperm's Tail

New insights into sperms' swimming skills shed light on male infertility, which affects one in 20 men, and could provide a new avenue to the development of a male contraceptive pill

In a study published in the journal PLoS Genetics, researchers from Monash University, the University of Newcastle, John Curtin School of Medical Research and Garvan Institute of Medical Research, in Australia; and the University of Cambridge, in the UK, have shown how a protein called RABL2 affects the length of sperm tails, crippling their motility (or swimming ability), and decreases sperm production.


A protein called RABL2
affects the length of sperm tails,
crippling their motility (or swimming ability),
and decreases sperm production.


Professor Moira O'Bryan from Monash University's School of Biomedical Sciences (SOBS) led the research. In laboratory tests, the team found that a mutation in RABL2 resulted in sperm tails that were 17 per cent shorter than normal. Dysfunctioning RABL2 also negatively affected sperm production, resulting in a 50 per cent decrease.

Professor O'Bryan said the research fitted another piece in the jigsaw puzzle of sperm development.

"The mutations in the RABL2 gene are very likely to cause infertility," Professor O'Bryan said.

"Further, as motility is absolutely essential for fertility, insights into tail function may reveal options for urgently needed male-based contraception."

Lead author and PhD student Jennifer Lo, also from the School of Biomedical Sciences, said RABL2 worked with other molecules known as intraflagellar transport proteins that carry genetic cargo along the sperm tail.

"Intraflagellar transport proteins are like a train. Our data suggests that the reloading of the train is defective if RABL2 dysfunctions," Ms Lo said.

"The train is still running in sperm tails with dysfunctional RABL2, but it contains fewer passengers. The end result is that sperm formation and motility are abnormal."


Ms. Lo believes that as mutations in RABL2
decrease sperm count and sperm swimming ability,
it may be possible to inhibit this protein
in a future male pill.

However, as RABL2 is also found,
albeit in lower concentrations,
in other tissues, such as the brain, kidney and liver,
an inhibitor specific to the testes
would need to be developed

Professor O'Bryan said that male infertility
was often the canary in the coal mine
of general health.


"Many of the basic processes of sperm development occur at lower levels in other organs of the body. As such, the presentation of a man for infertility treatment offers the opportunity not only to give him the children he desires but also to mitigate future disease," Professor O'Bryan said.

Original article: http://www.monash.edu.au/news/show/fertility-discovery-a-sperms-tail