Nav: Home

Gene required for sperm production in blood flukes identified

June 15, 2016

Scientists can interfere with sperm production in the parasitic blood fluke Schistosoma mansoni by blocking expression of the Nuclear Factor Y-B gene (NF-YB). The new study by Harini Iyer and Phillip A. Newmark of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and University of Illinois and James Collins (now at UT Southwestern) appears on June 15 in PLOS Genetics.

The population of stem cells that develop into sperm, called spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs), must continually renew themselves, while also differentiating into mature sperm. Too much self-renewal can create tumors and defects in differentiation can lead to infertility through malformed sperm. To better understand how SSCs maintain this balance, the scientists investigated the role of the NF-YB gene in stem cell production in the freshwater planarian, Schmidtea mediterranea. Previously, the NF-Y family of transcription factor had been shown to play a role in germ cell development in the planarian. Using RNA interference, the researchers lowered the expression of the gene and showed that it is necessary for SSC proliferation. They repeated the experiment in the planarian's parasitic cousin, S. mansoni, which is the cause of the neglected tropical disease schistosomiasis. Suppressing NF-YB created the same effect and ultimately reduced SSC numbers in the testes.

"We are excited to see that basic research on planarian germ cell development can also lead to better understanding of the reproductive biology of their parasitic cousins. Ultimately, reproduction enables the continued propagation of these parasites, and the more we know about how they reproduce, the better chance we have of controlling them someday," says Dr. Newmark. Additionally, the identification of factors involved in SSC maintenance may have other biomedical applications, such as discerning the cause of testicular tumors and improving fertility treatments.
-end-
In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Genetics: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1006109

Citation: Iyer H, Collins JJ III, Newmark PA (2016) NF-YB Regulates Spermatogonial Stem Cell Self-Renewal and Proliferation in the Planarian Schmidtea mediterranea. PLoS Genet 12(6): e1006109. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1006109

Image Credit: Harini Iyer and colleagues

Funding: This work was supported by grants from The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (http://www.nichd.nih.gov/Pages/index.aspx) (R01 HD043403) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (http://www.niaid.nih.gov/Pages/default.aspx) (R21 AI099642) to PAN. PAN is an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (http://www.hhmi.org/). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

PLOS

Related Stem Cells Articles:

A protein that stem cells require could be a target in killing breast cancer cells
Researchers have identified a protein that must be present in order for mammary stem cells to perform their normal functions.
Approaching a decades-old goal: Making blood stem cells from patients' own cells
Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have, for the first time, generated blood-forming stem cells in the lab using pluripotent stem cells, which can make virtually every cell type in the body.
New research finds novel method for generating airway cells from stem cells
Researchers have developed a new approach for growing and studying cells they hope one day will lead to curing lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis through 'personalized medicine.'
Mature heart muscle cells created in the laboratory from stem cells
Generating mature and viable heart muscle cells from human or other animal stem cells has proven difficult for biologists.
Mutations in bone cells can drive leukemia in neighboring stem cells
DNA mutations in bone cells that support blood development can drive leukemia formation in nearby blood stem cells.
Scientists take aging cardiac stem cells out of semiretirement to improve stem cell therapy
With age, the chromosomes of our cardiac stem cells compress as they move into a state of safe, semiretirement.
Purest yet liver-like cells generated from induced pluripotent stem cells
A team of researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina and elsewhere has found a better way to purify liver cells made from induced pluripotent stem cells.
Stem cell scientists discover genetic switch to increase supply of stem cells from cord blood
International stem cell scientists, co-led in Canada by Dr. John Dick and in the Netherlands by Dr.
Stem cells from diabetic patients coaxed to become insulin-secreting cells
Signaling a potential new approach to treating diabetes, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Related Stem Cells Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...