Navigation Links
Decisions, decisions: Male or female?

How germ cells decide whether to be sperm or eggs

Johns Hopkins biologists have determined how developing embryos tell their specialized "germ cells" whether to develop into a male's sperm or a female's eggs.

Present in both male and female embryos, germ cells are the precursors to both sperm and eggs. Unable to "decide" on their own which to become, however, germ cells must take "advice" from other cells within embryos as to which is the appropriate sex. The Johns Hopkins researchers have found that this advice is delivered by a sequence of chemical reactions called the "JAK/STAT" pathway. ("JAK/STAT" is an acronym for "Janus kinase/signal transducer and activator transcription.")

"Though we all know that the survival of the species depends on producing children, up until now we haven't understood how germ cells in the developing embryos decide whether to eventually become the sperm or eggs needed later for adult reproduction," said Mark Van Doren, assistant professor in the Department of Biology in the university's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. "Now we know one way these other cells are talking to germ cells about sex."

Van Doren was co-author of the study, published in the July 28 issue of the journal Nature. The discovery promises to enhance understanding of infertility and even some forms of cancer and could eventually lead to the development of more effective treatments for both.

Led by Van Doren and post-doctoral fellow Matthew Wawersik, the Johns Hopkins team used specialized microscopes at the university's Integrated Imaging Center to look at certain molecules and cell types in fruit fly embryos. Though they already knew that the JAK/STAT pathway was an important means of various types of cell-to-cell communication, they discovered that embryos also were using that pathway to send germ cells signals regarding sexual identity.

"This work implicates that pathway as a key regulator of early decisions made by germ cells as to whether to eventually develop into eggs or sperm," Wawersik said.

Though the team's observations were limited to the pathway's role in fruit fly germ cell communication, Van Doren said the same conduit also is active in humans and mice. When communication via the JAK/STAT pathway misfires, diseases such as cancer can result, he said.

"Evolutionarily, germ cells are one of the most ancient cell types, needed by every type of animal to reproduce," Van Doren said. "Their developmental program is very similar, whether we are talking fruit flies or humans. As a result, these findings could eventually help us understand and treat defects in germ cell development that lead to human infertility and disease."


'"/>

Source:Johns Hopkins University


Related biology news :

1. Novel Asthma Study Shows Multiple Genetic Input Required; Single-gene Solution Shot Down
2. Novel technology detects human DNA mutations
3. Novel antiviral technology inhibits RSV infection in mice
4. Novel Enzyme Shows Potential As An Anti-HIV Target
5. Novel Therapy Tested in Mice Could Chase Away Cat Allergies
6. Discovery Could Lead To Novel Approaches In HIV Treatment
7. Novel ultrafast laser detection of cancer cells also may improve understanding of stem cells
8. Research Using Mouse Models Reveals A Novel Key Player In The Initiation Of Colon Cancer
9. Novel gene-silencing nanoparticles shown to inhibit Ewings sarcoma
10. Novel live reporting system to track cells
11. Field of beams - Novel system uses polarized light pulses to reveal crop health
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:


(Date:5/12/2016)... WearablesResearch.com , a brand of Troubadour ... from the Q1 wave of its quarterly wearables survey. ... receptivity to a program where they would receive discounts ... company. "We were surprised to see that ... LaColla , CEO of Troubadour Research, "primarily because there ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... LONDON , April 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... partnership to integrate the Onegini mobile security platform ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ) The integration ... security to access and transact across channels. Using ...
(Date:4/14/2016)... , April 14, 2016 ... Malware Detection, today announced the appointment of Eyal ... new role. Goldwerger,s leadership appointment comes at ... heels of the deployment of its platform at several ... biometric technology, which discerns unique cognitive and physiological factors, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital has signed a ... serve as their official health care provider. As ... provide sponsorship support, athletic training services, and most ... athletes and families. "We are excited ... to bring Houston Methodist quality services and programs ...
(Date:6/23/2016)...   EpiBiome , a precision microbiome engineering company, ... financing from Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). The financing will ... its drug development efforts, as well as purchase additional ... has been an incredible strategic partner to us – ... would provide," said Dr. Aeron Tynes Hammack , ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... LOUISVILLE, Ky. , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... from two Phase 1 clinical trials of its ... double-blind, placebo-controlled, single and multiple ascending dose studies ... and pharmacodynamics (PD) of subcutaneous injection in healthy ... APL-2 subcutaneously (SC) either as a single dose ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ClinCapture, the only free ... and will showcase its product’s latest features from June 26 to June 30, ... poster on Disrupting Clinical Trials in The Cloud during the conference. DIA ...
Breaking Biology Technology: