A protein that helps detect DNA damage in developing eggs has been identified. The finding, reported in a paper published online by Nature, may have implications for the understanding and treatment of female infertility.
Human eggs start developing before birth. Specialized precursors begin to undergo meiosis, a type of cell division that eventually yields a mature egg containing just one set of chromosomes. But the process, which then grinds to a halt and is finally completed after puberty, can take decades.
Frank McKeon and colleagues show that a protein called p63 is expressed in developing mouse eggs during this period of meiotic arrest. They believe that the protein helps preserve the integrity of the female germ line by triggering the death of eggs with DNA damage.
Frank McKeon (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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