Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Your Fertility Cells Must Have 'Radio Silence'

Date:
January 30, 2008
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
Researchers have uncovered a previously unknown mechanism which causes embryonic germ cells -- which later develop into sperm or ova -- to go through a period of "transcriptional silence," during which information from the cell's DNA cannot be copied. Without this important phase, unique to cells of this type, an organism produces sterile offspring.

Researchers in Kobe, Japan, and Montreal, Canada, have uncovered a previously unknown mechanism which causes embryonic germ cells -- which later develop into sperm or ova -- to go through a period of "transcriptional silence," during which information from the cell's DNA cannot be copied. Without this important phase, unique to cells of this type, an organism produces sterile offspring.

Related Articles


The study was conducted by a team led by Dr. Akira Nakamura at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe and by Dr. Paul Lasko, Chair of McGill University's Department of Biology. Their results were published in January, 2008, in the journal Nature.

"A fundamental characteristic of embryonic germ cells in all organisms is that they don't transcribe their own genes for a certain time during embryonic development," Dr. Lasko explained. "They are transcriptionally silent; that's what makes them special. It's not fully understood why this is the case, but if that silencing doesn't happen, then the germ cells don't work. They don't migrate correctly and they don't make their way into the gonads."

Dr. Nakamura was a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. Lasko's lab in the mid-1990s when they co-discovered the Polar Granule Component (PGC) gene in drosophila, commonly known as the fruit fly. If the mother fly lacks PGC, her offspring will be unable to produce germ cells. Initially, Dr. Lasko said, they discovered that the PGC gene produced an RNA, but they did not believe it produced any proteins. Using current technology, Dr. Nakamura discovered that PGC does indeed produce a protein which regulates Transcription Elongation Factor B (TEF-B), the genetic machinery that expresses proteins.

"It's a very small, 71-amino acid protein," Dr. Lasko explained. "The average length of a protein is about 400 to 500 amino acids, so this is extremely small. Back when we did the initial research, there weren't very many genes known that encoded such a short protein. The significance of this is that Nakamura has shown that this little protein seems to be the key regulator that keeps gene expression shut off in germ cells."

Mutant fruit flies without the ability to produce the protein produce sterile offspring which produce no sperm or eggs.

"What the study argues is that this regulation of TEF-B might be very important for germ cell development in a variety of organisms. That's something people will want to look at in mammals," Dr. Lasko said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Why Your Fertility Cells Must Have 'Radio Silence'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080129160731.htm>.
McGill University. (2008, January 30). Why Your Fertility Cells Must Have 'Radio Silence'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080129160731.htm
McGill University. "Why Your Fertility Cells Must Have 'Radio Silence'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080129160731.htm (accessed December 18, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

When You Lose Weight, This Is Where The Fat Goes

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Can fat disappear into thin air? New research finds that during weight loss, over 80 percent of a person's fat molecules escape through the lungs. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

The Hottest Food Trends for 2015

Buzz60 (Dec. 17, 2014) Urbanspoon predicts whicg food trends will dominate the culinary scene in 2015. Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Rover Finds More Clues About Possible Life On Mars

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) NASA's Curiosity rover detected methane on Mars and organic compounds on the surface, but it doesn't quite prove there was life ... yet. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Ivory Trade Boom Swamps Law Efforts

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 17, 2014) Demand for ivory has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of African elephants and now a conservation report says the illegal trade is overwhelming efforts to enforce the law. Amy Pollock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins