Monday, November 13, 2006

 

Sperm proteome gives 'tantalising glimpse' towards the origin of sex

University of Bath (UK) Press Release: The first ever catalogue of the different types of proteins found in sperm could help reveal the origins of sex and explain some of the mysteries of infertility, say scientists.

Research published in the journal Nature Genetics today describes 381 proteins present in sperm of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Whilst more proteins may be identified as research progresses, this study marks the first substantial 'whole-cell' characterisation of the protein components of a higher eukaryotic cell (a cell in which all the genetic components are contained within a nucleus).

This so-called 'proteome' contains everything the sperm needs to survive and function correctly, and scientists can use it to investigate the factors that make some sperm more successful than others.

Around half of the genes of the fruit fly sperm proteome have comparable versions in humans and mice, making it a useful model for studying male infertility in mammals.

By comparing the sperm proteome of the fruit fly with other species, scientists will also be able to rewind evolution and work out the core sperm proteome - the most basic constituents a sperm needs for sexual reproduction. This will shed light on how sex itself evolved.

Continued at "Sperm proteome gives 'tantalising glimpse' towards the origin of sex"
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Based on the paper "Genomic and functional evolution of the Drosophila melanogaster sperm proteome" (Abstract advance publication url; 'final' DOI url) by Timothy L Karr (homepage) et. al

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