Sperm donations

Human sperm deliver more than just Dad’s DNA to a waiting egg. They also provide the female sex cell with paternal messenger RNAs, a Brief Communication in this week’s Nature reports. The discovery may boost infertility research and aid the development of improved cloning strategies. Stephen A. Krawetz and colleagues have identified six messenger RNAs that are present in human sperm and in fertilized eggs, but not in unfertilized eggs. This suggests that sperm deliver the molecules to the egg at fertilization.
Although their exact function is unknown, the authors speculate that the molecules may aid development. They could, for example, help activate the egg or contribute to gene expression. If their role in development is confirmed, the findings could have implications for the success of cloning techniques that focus on transferring DNA only. The research may also speed the identification of male infertility-related molecules.

Contact Stephen A. Krawetz

Nature VOL.429 NO.6988 DATED 13 MAY 2004, 153