Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Insect glands may illuminate human fertilization process

Date:
May 3, 2012
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
Insect glands are responsible for producing a host of secretions that allow bees to sting and ants to lay down trails. New research focuses on secretions from glands in the reproductive tract that help sperm survive and guide the sperm on the trip to fertilize an egg. The gene that controls the development of these glands in fruit flies provides important information about gland development in all insects, as well as potential clues to similar human reproductive glands.

Fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster).
Credit: © Studiotouch / Fotolia

Insect glands are responsible for producing a host of secretions that allow bees to sting and ants to lay down trails to and from their nests. New research from Carnegie scientists focuses on secretions from glands in the reproductive tract that help sperm survive and guide the sperm on the trip to fertilize an egg. The gene that controls the development of these glands in fruit flies provides important information about gland development in all insects, as well as potential clues to similar human reproductive glands.

Their work is published this month in Current Biology.

When a female fruit fly receives sperm from a male fruit fly, lubricating secretions in her reproductive tract activate the sperm, store it, and guide it to fertilization. Without the aid of these secretions, sperm would not make it to the eggs. Carnegie's Allan Spradling and Jianjun Sun demonstrated that the gene in charge of regulating the development of fruit fly secretion glands is called Hr39. It encodes a steroid receptor protein.

Mutant fruit flies that lack this gene have no such glands formed in the reproductive tract and are infertile. However, their formation could be partially restored with the expression of a mouse gene that encodes an analogous steroid receptor in mammals called Lrh-1. Mutant mice that lack this gene are also infertile.

The work demonstrates that even though it has been millions of years since there was a common ancestor that links fruit flies to mice -- and, more generally, insects to mammals -- these similar genes are still in charge of at least some of the same functions.

Secretions from reproductive glands in mammals are thought to assist sperm in undergoing similar changes to facilitate fertilization. But studying this process has proved difficult. Knowing that the functions of Hr39 in fruit flies and Lrh-1 in mammals are similar in this regard will facilitate research.

"The fruit fly work in our paper provides a method for studying the cellular physiology governing this reproductive secretion process more quickly, cheaply and effectively than we had previously thought possible," Spradling said.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Jianjun Sun, Allan C. Spradling. NR5A Nuclear Receptor Hr39 Controls Three-Cell Secretory Unit Formation in Drosophila Female Reproductive Glands. Current Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.03.059

Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "Insect glands may illuminate human fertilization process." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503125816.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2012, May 3). Insect glands may illuminate human fertilization process. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503125816.htm
Carnegie Institution. "Insect glands may illuminate human fertilization process." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120503125816.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) — America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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