Japanese scientists representing the universities of Kumamoto and Kyoto have discovered a gene that stimulates the processes of reductive cell division. When this gene was neutralized in rodents, regardless of gender, infertility was recorded .
The overwhelming majority of cellular structures in the body are able to multiply by the method of indirect division - the so-called process of mitosis. We are talking about an uninterrupted cycle that occurs with the doubling of genetic information. The cell bifurcates, creating equivalent copies. As for the germ cells - in particular, sperm and eggs - they are formed by a special form of reduction division, which is called meiosis. This division is carried out in the gonads.
The onset of meiosis is unremarkable, since it proceeds according to the type of ordinary mitosis. However, soon the process is transformed, four genetically different embryonic structures are created, having 50% of the gene material of the primary cell. What mechanisms are involved in this transformation? This question has long been of interest to scientists, since many medical problems associated with the reproductive sphere are associated with it.
In their experiment, scientists used mass spectral analysis, which made it possible to determine a specific gene meiosin, which acts like a switch. Meiosin has a unique ability to "turn on" only at a certain moment - just before the start of the meiosis process in the gonads. Experimentally, scientists were able to find that after the "shutdown" of meiosin, animals became infertile.
A subsequent study of the gonads of both sexes of rodents demonstrated that the discovered gene is closely related to the activation of meiosis. Its function is similar to a "tumbler" in that it simultaneously triggers a huge number of genes that form germ cells.
The researchers suggest that the results of the experiment are very important for the further advancement of reproductive medicine.
“We were very surprised when we discovered such a large number of genes with a functional orientation that we do not understand. These genes are in a drowsy state, but are very important for the reproduction process, - says the co-author of the research work, representative of the Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics at Kumamoto University, Dr. Ishiguro. - We can only hope that the determination of the properties of such genes will allow us to elucidate the mechanisms involved in the formation of embryos. And if we manage to establish control over meiosis, it will be a tremendous success, both for reproductive science and for the agricultural direction and the reproduction of endangered species of the animal world. "
Details of the study are described in the scientific periodical Developmental Cell