Understanding quality control during sperm production

Dr Peter Ellis from the School of Biosciences recently published a paper in the journal Human Molecular Genetics on the quality control mechanisms during sperm production.

During the production of eggs and sperm (gametes) in mammals, there is a need for strict quality control. This includes ensuring correct cell division, that exactly half the genome makes it into the final product, that the right amount of genetic recombination (the process through which we are all different) occurs, and that the DNA packaged into the egg and sperm cells is undamaged. One of the ‘checkpoint’ pathways the developing gametes use to do this is ‘meiotic silencing’, in which the cell tests whether each chromosome has correctly paired up with its partner, and inactivates the genes on any chromosome that is not paired. Dr Ellis’ work shows that a gene on the Y chromosome, Zfy2 controls the stringency of meiotic silencing. In male mice lacking Zfy2, meiotic silencing is ‘leaky’, the resulting germ cells show a range of developmental problems, and the mice are sterile.

Further details can be found here.