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itory molecule, it can't be a protein also active in such somatic tissues as brain, heart, liver, and so forth, only in the reproductive cells we want to target." Investigating germ cell molecules for contraception is also desirable because it frequently allows reversibility.

Hecht and colleagues have been proposing this scheme for the last several years, but how does the absence of the MSY2 protein result in male and female infertility? "We don't know the complete mechanism yet, but it may be preventing the stabilization of specific messenger RNAs that need to be used at specific times as germ cells differentiate into mature sperm and eggs," explains Hecht. "An equally likely possibility is that the absence of MSY2 disrupts the timing of how specific mRNAs are used during germ cell differentiation. As cells become mature sperm, there's a precise order of synthesis of many essential proteins needed to create functional gametes. We think the absence of the MSY2 protein causes problems in the timing of sperm or egg development. We're working hard on understanding this mechanism."

A similar human equivalent of MSY2, Contrin, has been identified by the research group and their studies indicate it is also a germ cell-specific protein. Using MSY2 as a mouse model, Hecht and colleagues hope that Contrin can be developed as a new non-hormonal target for human contraception.


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Source:University of Pennsylvania Medical Center


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