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USC researchers explore genetic causes for male infertility
Date:12/12/2007

a normal physiologic process that occurs during embryonic development.

Disturbance of epigenetic programming can result in abnormal gene activity or function, even if there is no change in DNA sequence, continues Sokol.

The epigenetic irregularity found in these abnormal sperm samples was present in a high proportion of genes that were studied. The results suggest that the underlying mechanism for these epigenetic changes may be improper erasure of DNA methylation during epigenetic reprogramming of the male germ line.

If we can identify what causes these changes to the sperm DNA, then we might be able to prevent certain types of male infertility, concludes Sokol. This is particularly important because recent animal studies have suggested that epigenetics may have broader implications. Exposures to chemicals as a fetus may lead to adult diseases. Perhaps such exposures may be causing the changes in the sperm DNA that we have identified. Studies to uncover a relationship between chemical exposures and alterations in sperm DNA should shed light on this.


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Contact: Jennifer Chan
chanj@usc.edu
323-442-3941
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

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