Proteins related to cancer are critical to male fertility

Proteins related to cancer are critical to male fertility
Spermatocytes in mice deficient for a Fanconi anemia pathway protein, Fancd2.

In a new study led by Cincinnati Children’s, researchers find that a network of proteins often linked to cancer is also important to male fertility and the birth of healthy offspring.

The finding is published in Cell Reports. Researchers examined the precise epigenetic regulation of the sex chromosomes, which is important to germline cells that make male sperm.

Epigenetics involves changes in organisms caused by modifications to gene expression, rather than alterations in the genetic code.

Recent research has investigated the epigenetics of reproduction to learn how environmental exposures or lifestyle may affect fertility or inherited traits in offspring.

In the current study, researchers focused on the Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway in mice. FA pathway is a network of 21 proteins that normally work to repair DNA damage in the body’s cells.

Mutations in the FA pathway can lead to severe anemia, genetic instability and different cancers.

The result showed that during the production of genetically healthy sperm, FA proteins accumulated on the male sex chromosomes.

This means the FA pathway regulates epigenetic programming in the germline and has an impact on reproduction.

Researchers suggest that the finding can help understand the substantial fertility defects associated with FA and the role of FA proteins in DNA repair.

The study is part of a much larger body of reproductive science exploring the causes of infertility, premature birth, birth defects and miscarriage – all still major health problems in the world.

In the future, researchers will continue their research by digging deeper into how and when FA proteins and other DNA damage response proteins interact during meiosis, and how this affects sperm production and fertility in laboratory mouse models.

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News Source: Cincinnati Children’s.
Figure legend: This image is credited to Cincinnati Children’s.