New molecular regulator of sperm found

Male fertility often goes undiagnosed or labeled as “unexplained.” It’s been hypothesized that environmental and lifestyle factors can largely affect male fertility, though it can be difficult to pinpoint which ones and to what extent they play a role.

Researchers out of the Yale Stem Cell Center may have uncovered new molecular factors that can lead to male infertility.

p53 is a regulatory gene involved in maintaining the integrity of our genome.  That is, it patrols our DNA for damage and mutations and can promote DNA repair or cell death, if necessary.

Scientists have now isolated small molecules that regulate these activities of p53.

Specifically, Pumilo 1 was found to regulate other small molecules that control p53 in sperm production.

Deletion of Pumilo 1 in mice leads to decreased sperm production and fertility because over-expression of p53 leads to the destruction of too many sperm.

Researchers believe that mutations or deletion of Pumilo 1 may play a role in male infertility, especially in cases where the cause is unclear.