‘One in 7 couples infertile’: Hyderabad CSIR scientists identify gene behind male fertility

Approximately, one in every seven couples worldwide is infertile

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  16 May 2024 2:55 PM GMT
‘One in 7 couples infertile’: Hyderabad CSIR scientists identify gene behind male fertility

Hyderabad: The scientists at the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) in Hyderabad have, for the first time, identified the gene (Tex13b), essential for sperm cell development and male fertility.

The study was led by Dr K Thangaraj, in collaboration with his colleagues Dr P Chandra Shekar and Dr Swasti Raychaudhuri at the CSIR-CCMB, and their findings were published in the journal Human Reproduction.

Infertility is a global issue

Approximately, one in every seven couples worldwide is infertile. The male factors account for approximately 50 per cent of total infertility due to abnormal semen parameters, such as the complete absence of sperm in semen ejaculate, low sperm count, abnormal motility of sperm and abnormal sperm shape and size.

One of the important factors behind the above causes is the genetic factor.

“Using next-generation sequencing, we compared all the gene coding regions (exons) between infertile and fertile males. We found two causative mutations in the TEX13B gene, of which one was exclusively found in infertile men and the other one is found much more frequently in infertile men compared to fertile control men,” said Dr Umesh Kumar, the first author who was a PhD student of CCMB and presently a postdoctoral researcher at University of Michigan, USA.

The researchers have developed a cell culture model of mouse sperm-producing cells by knocking out the Tex13b gene using CRISPR-Cas9 technology. They found that the loss of the Tex13b gene reduces the respiratory ability of the cells. They also found that Tex13b controls energy metabolism in the sperm-producing cells.

Together, they argue that this affects the formation of new sperm cells.

“The findings of this study would be useful for screening infertile males with spermatogenic failure and counselling them before the implementation of assisted reproduction technique(s),” said Dr Vinay Kumar Nandicoori, director of CCMB.

Males can receive the Tex13b gene from fertile mothers

This study reminds us how genetic trait transmissions can be more complex and more nuanced than what we superficially think.

“The Tex13b is present on the X chromosome, which all males receive only from their mothers, and not from their fathers! It means that the mother who carries the faulty Tex13b is fertile (as she carries two X chromosomes). But, when she transmits the X chromosome with the faulty Tex13b, her son becomes infertile. This is not what we generally expect to be an underlying cause of male infertility,” explained Dr K Thangaraj.

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