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Infertility is a major cause of concern among couples. A research conducted at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine has claimed that the gene involved with the production of sperm may apparently add to male infertility and could result in new approaches to male contraception.

It is said that one in every six couples trying to conceive a baby is apparently affected by infertility. This is as per the American Fertility Association. It is believed that a male factor is supposedly present in about half of these cases. One of the major causes or a contributing cause is claimed to be sperm defect.

Through a three-step process known as spermatogenesis, sperms are known to be produced in the testicles. A lot of changes apparently occur, counting the wrapping of DNA into the sperm head and the development of the sperm tail, which supposedly pushes the sperm cell towards the egg, during the final stage called as spermiogenesis.

The team of researchers reported that male mice apparently deficient in a protein known as meiosis expressed gene 1, or MEIG1, were claimed to be sterile as an outcome of damaged spermiogenesis which is the procedure that includes changes in the sperm head and the development of the tail.

According to Jerome F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., dean in the VCU School of Medicine, and Zhibing Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor in the VCU Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, it was also discovered that MEIG1 associates with the Parkin co-regulated gene protein, or PACRG protein and that testicular PACRG protein may be decreased in MEIG1-deficient mice. PACRG is said to play a major part in gathering of the sperm tail, and the reproductive phenotype of PACRG -deficient mice reflects that of the MEIG1-mutant mice.

Strauss commented, “We discovered that MEIG1 is essential for male fertility. Moreover, our findings reveal a critical role for the MEIG1/PACRG partnership in the function of a structure that is unique to sperm, the manchette. The absence of a normal manchette in mice lacking MEIG1 totally disrupts the maturation process of sperm.”

Strauss also mentioned that in addition to having an impact on fertility, the discovery identifies a new target for drug discovery of a much needed reversible male method of contraception.

This research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.