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Stem Cells Key To Sperm Production

  May, 25 2004 6:33
your information resource in human molecular genetics
In the June issue of the journal Nature Genetics published online, two research groups, one led by Pier Paulo Pandolfi and the other by Robert E. Braun, report the first discovery of a protein expressed within germline stem cells that allows them to proliferate and renew themselves, a process essential to maintain a supply of sperm. The cells of the ovaries and testes are uniquely able to give rise to offspring. Germline stem cells within these organs provide the cells that give rise to eggs and sperm and, importantly, they also replace themselves. Experimental mice lacking the Plzf protein run out of sperm and their testes degenerate, showing that this protein is integral to the self-renewal of the germline stem cells. Understanding how Plzf works may be important in ways that extend beyond understanding fertility, for example, chromosome translocations that lead to inappropriate expression of Plzf in blood-forming cells of the bone marrow, give rise to acute promyelocytic leukemia. This further piece of evidence confirms that Plzf tells cells to proliferate indefinitely rather than to commit to becoming a particular tissue.

Author Contacts:

Dr. Robert E Braun (University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA)
Tel: +1 206 543 1818, E-mail: braun@u.washington.edu

Dr. Pier Paolo Pandolfi (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA)
Tel: +1 212 639 6166, E-mail: p-pandolfi@ski.mskcc.org

(C) Nature Genetics press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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