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A cross-species approach for the identification of Drosophila male sterility genes

Kimihide Ibaraki, Mihoko Nakatsuka, Takashi Ohsako, Masahide Watanabe, Yu Miyazaki, Machi Shirakami, Timothy L Karr, Rikako Sanuki, Masatoshi Tomaru, Toshiyuki Takano-Shimizu-Kouno
G3 Genes|Genomes|Genetics ; doi:10.1093/g3journal/jkab183

Abstract: Male reproduction encompasses many essential cellular processes and interactions. As a focal point for these events, sperm offer opportunities for advancing our understanding of sexual reproduction at multiple levels during development. Using male sterility genes identified in human, mouse and fruit fly databases as a starting point, 103 Drosophila melanogaster genes were screened for their association with male sterility by tissue-specific RNAi knockdown and CRISPR/Cas9-mediated mutagenesis. This list included 56 genes associated with male infertility in the human databases, but not found in the Drosophila database, resulting in the discovery of 63 new genes associated with male fertility in Drosophila. The phenotypes identified were categorized into six distinct classes affecting sperm development. Interestingly, the second largest class (Class VI) caused sterility despite apparently normal testis and sperm morphology suggesting that these proteins may have functions in the mature sperm following spermatogenesis. We focused on one such gene, Rack 1, and found that it plays an important role in two developmental periods, in early germline cells or germline stem cells and in spermatogenic cells or sperm. Taken together, many genes are yet to be identified and their role in male reproduction, especially after ejaculation, remains to be elucidated in Drosophila, where a wealth of data from human and other model organisms would be useful.
Keywords: Human male infertility / male sterility / Rack1 / cross-species approach / Drosophila

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