Novel Screening System

Novel Screening System Developed By Kyoto University To Study Sperm Quality, Potential Breakthroughs In Male Contraception And Fertility Treatments


Kyoto University researchers have developed an innovative screening system that allows in-depth molecular-level investigations into sperm cell development and health. Led by Professor Jun Suzuki of the Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS), a recent study published in Cell Genomics has introduced a groundbreaking method for directly targeting genes within testicular cells within living organisms.

Employing a genetic tool known as CRISPR, likened to genetic scissors, the researchers have pioneered a technique to explore the genes responsible for healthy sperm production within live animals. Conventionally, such studies were carried out on cells cultured in laboratories. The researchers disrupted genes randomly, introducing a collection of genetic tools in lentivirus into testicular cells in testes with high precision.

Through this cutting-edge approach, the team has been able to analyze the impact of targeted genes on specific biochemical reactions in sperm cells, such as lipid movement in cell membranes. The researchers specifically focused on sperm exhibiting defective capacitation, a critical process enabling sperm cells to fertilize eggs, identified by measuring calcium absorption levels. This study method facilitated the identification of a crucial gene, Rd3, vital for maintaining sperm cell health, particularly during sperm cell development.

Although Rd3 is traditionally linked to eye function, the researchers found high activity levels in round sperm cells, a premature stage in sperm production, indicating its significant role in regulating sperm health. The exploration of Rd3’s interaction with mitochondria, the cells’ energy production units, unveiled its importance in sperm integrity maintenance during development. To deepen the understanding of Rd3’s function, Suzuki and his team developed the computational tool Hub-Explorer, revealing its impact on oxidative stress regulation, a condition associated with cellular damage.

The study’s lead author, Noguchi, emphasizes the limited contraception options available to men compared to women and underscores the potential of this new screening method in discovering pivotal molecules that could lead to groundbreaking birth control solutions and infertility therapies for men.

Suzuki highlights that these findings not only advance the comprehension of sperm cell development but also shed light on potential breakthroughs in various biological processes. The developed method holds great promise for expedited drug development to address a wide array of diseases by extending its application to other tissues.

Despite the progress achieved, challenges still persist, particularly in the observed gradual decline of cells with targeted genes. The researchers are actively exploring alternative strategies to enhance the method’s efficacy while planning its application to investigate diverse biological processes and diseases across different bodily regions.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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