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Data on 'Packaging' in Sperm Cells May Help Assess Infertility
Biologists say they have discovered a clever packaging scheme that allows the genetic material in sperm to have far more influence over development of a fertilized egg than had been imagined.
"Do infertile men have problems in packaging, and is that the basis of their problem?" asked Brad Cairns, a professor of oncological sciences at the University of Utah and a leader of the team reporting the finding in the June 14 online edition of Nature. "We already have preliminary evidence that the majority of infertile men have problems in gene packaging. There is an incorrect ratio of histones to protamine."
Cairns said that the gene packaging issue is related to another biological aspect of DNA expression -- DNA methylation. Some subunits of the DNA molecules ordinarily have molecules called methyl groups attached to them. Lack of methylation can also contribute to infertility, he said.
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