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NewsIdentification of Gene Responsible for Male Mouse Infertility Using Genome Editing Technology –Elucidating the Cause of Male Infertility and Anticipating Breeding Control in Animals–

11/07/16

 Shizuoka University's Associate Professor Keiichiro Yogo identified Slc22a14 as the gene responsible for male infertility in mice. This find was the result of joint research conducted with the University of Tokyo's Assistant Professor Wataru Fujii and Chiba University's Instructor Chizuru Ito and Specially Appointed Professor Kiyotaka Toshimori.
Associate Professor Yogo discovered Slc22a14 as the gene expressed specifically when sperm is formed. However, its mechanism in reproduction was unknown. Accordingly, after manufacturing mice that lack the Slc22a14 gene with genome editing technologies using CRISPR/Cas9, the research team found that nearly all of the males were infertile. Although these mice produced the same number of sperm as normal mice, their sperm had considerably lower motor capacity because of abnormal bending of their flagella.

 In addition, these mice's sperm had defects in the capacitation required for insemination of the ova, and it was clear that the male infertility was due to this decrease in sperm function.
Slc22a14 is an SLC transporter that transports substances between cell membranes. SLC transporters often fulfill essential roles in organisms, and they receive attention as the genes responsible for various ailments and as target compounds for drug discovery. Slc22a14 genes are expected to lead to the discovery of causes for male infertility due to their presence in many mammals, including humans. These genes are also thought to have applications in breeding control for wild animals that have increased too much and the development of drugs that hinder their functions.

 The results of this study were published in the online version of Scientific Reports, an international scientific journal, on November 4, 2016.

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