Baltimore, MD Eggs take a long time to produce in the ovary, and thus are one of a body's precious resources. It has been theorized that the body has mechanisms to help the ovary ensure that ovulated eggs enter the reproductive tract at the right time in order to maximize the chance of successful fertilization.
New research from Carnegie's Allan Spradling and Jianjun Sun has shed light on how successful ovulation and fertilization are brought about by studying these processes in fruit flies. They found that secretions from special glands within the fruit fly's reproductive tract contribute to both ovulation and sperm function, and that this secretion is controlled by a specific hormone receptor gene, called Hr39. Their results suggest that Lrh-1, a mammalian receptor gene closely related to Hr39, also regulates ovulation by controlling reproductive tract secretions in mammals. Their findings are published by eLife.
Sun and Spradling's research provides an example of how the biological processes underlying a specific type of human tissue are often fundamentally similar to the biology of analogous tissues in seemingly very different species, such as insects. These common processes are not an accident, but rather are a consequence of the common evolutionary history of virtually all multicellular organisms on Earth. As a result of these similarities, researchers can genetically manipulate fruit flies in order to identify the genes and pathways controlling a biological processin this case ovulationand then use genome sequencing to identify the corresponding genes in other species, including humans.
Sun and Spradling began such a strategy a few years ago by characterizing how the glands within the ovary develop. Soon, they were able to tweak normal development to generate flies with anywhere from zero to the normal number of about 200 secretory cells, as well as adults in which secretory cell function could be turned on or off at
|Contact: Allan Spradling|