Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New type of male contraceptive? Key gene essential for sperm development discovered

Date:
May 24, 2012
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
A new type of male contraceptive could be created thanks to the discovery of a key gene essential for sperm development. The finding could lead to alternatives to the conventional male contraceptives that rely on disrupting the production of hormones, such as testosterone. These treatments can cause side effects such as irritability, mood swings and acne.

A new type of male contraceptive could be created thanks to the discovery of a key gene essential for sperm development.
Credit: WONG SZE FEI / Fotolia

A new type of male contraceptive could be created thanks to the discovery of a key gene essential for sperm development.

Related Articles


The finding could lead to alternatives to the conventional male contraceptives that rely on disrupting the production of hormones, such as testosterone. These treatments can cause side-effects such as irritability, mood swings and acne.

Research, led by the University of Edinburgh, has shown how a gene -- Katnal1 -- is critical to enable sperm to mature in the testes.

If scientists can regulate the Katnal1 gene in the testes, they could prevent sperm from maturing completely, making them ineffective without changing hormone levels.

The research, which is published in the journal PLoS Genetics, could also help in finding treatments for cases of male infertility when malfunction of the Katnal1 gene hampers sperm development.

Dr Lee Smith, Reader in Genetic Endocrinology at the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Reproductive Health, said: "If we can find a way to target this gene in the testes, we could potentially develop a non-hormonal contraceptive.

"The important thing is that the effects of such a drug would be reversible because Katnal1 only affects sperm cells in the later stages of development, so it would not hinder the early stages of sperm production and the overall ability to produce sperm.

"Although other research is being carried out into non-hormonal male contraceptives, identification of a gene that controls sperm production in the way Katnal1 does is a unique and significant step forward in our understanding of testis biology."

Scientists found that male mice that were modified so they did not have the Katnal1 gene were infertile.

Further investigation showed that this was because the gene was needed to allow the sperm to develop and mature.

The researchers showed that Katnal1 was needed to regulate the scaffolding structures known as microtubules, which form part of the cells that support and provide nutrients to developing sperm.

Breaking down and rebuilding these microtubules enables the sperm cells to move within the testes as they mature. Katnal1 acts as the essential controller of this process.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Lee B. Smith, Laura Milne, Nancy Nelson, Sharon Eddie, Pamela Brown, Nina Atanassova, Moira K. O'Bryan, Liza O'Donnell, Danielle Rhodes, Sara Wells, Diane Napper, Patrick Nolan, Zuzanna Lalanne, Michael Cheeseman, Josephine Peters. KATNAL1 Regulation of Sertoli Cell Microtubule Dynamics Is Essential for Spermiogenesis and Male Fertility. PLoS Genetics, 2012; 8 (5): e1002697 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002697

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "New type of male contraceptive? Key gene essential for sperm development discovered." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120524215249.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2012, May 24). New type of male contraceptive? Key gene essential for sperm development discovered. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120524215249.htm
Public Library of Science. "New type of male contraceptive? Key gene essential for sperm development discovered." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120524215249.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids Die While Under Protective Services

Kids Die While Under Protective Services

AP (Dec. 18, 2014) As part of a six-month investigation of child maltreatment deaths, the AP found that hundreds of deaths from horrific abuse and neglect could have been prevented. AP's Haven Daley reports. (Dec. 18) Video provided by AP
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


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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