this mean that the Y chromosome (or most of it) is no longer needed? Yes, given
our current technological advances in assisted reproductive technologies', said Professor
Monika Ward at the Institute for
Ward and her colleagues produced transgenic mice that
only had the Sry gene, critical in testes development, and the Eif2s3y gene, which is involved in the initial stages of sperm production,
on their Y chromosomes.
These infertile mice then underwent an advanced form of IVF, called spermatid
injection, where immature sperm cells are injected directly into the egg. They fathered pups that went on to have a normal lifespan and were capable of producing a second generation on their own without further assistance.
Professor Ward highlighted the importance
of the Y chromosome for normal, unassisted fertilisation and other aspects of
male reproduction. 'Most of the mouse Y-chromosome genes are necessary for
normal fertilisation', she said. 'However, when it
comes to assisted reproduction, our mouse study proves that the Y-chromosome
contribution can be brought to a bare minimum'.
Although their findings are not directly translatable to human male
infertility cases, the research group argue that the advances in assisted
reproduction methods could one day help infertile men with a damaged
'It's quite an amazing technique
to be able to get live, healthy offspring from round spermatid, which are way
early in the final process of sperm maturation', said Polly
Campbell, an evolutionary biologist at Oklahoma
State University who was not involved in the research, speaking to The
Scientist. 'That is probably the single most striking thing about this