This blog series highlights pertinent publications that were featured in MCI's monthly newsletter editions in the first quarter of 2022. The purpose of this blog is to report interesting or relevant work from MCI Fellows, Grantees, staff members, and other community authors in the field of male contraception.
Two MCI Grantees, Pablo Visconti and Mariano Buffone, co-authored this publication that demonstrates that human sperm can remain motile for several hours under starvation, and that there may be other metabolic pathways that play a role in sperm energy production. Their results demonstrate that malnourished human sperm had reduced levels of the energy molecule Adenosine Triphosphate and lower levels of 3’-5’ cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP), a molecular signal that is required for capacitation. When human sperm are deprived of nutrients, their motility is significantly reduced until the necessary nutrients are reintroduced. These results have implications for future research that aims to regulate sperm fertilization competence in-vitro.
Dr. Zhibing Zhang, an MCI Grantee and Associate Professor at Wayne State University co-authored this paper that illustrates specific molecular interactions between the male contraceptive targets MEIG1 and PACRG. In mice, Parkin co regulated gene (PACRG) recruits meiosis-expressed gene 1 (MEIG1) to the manchette, or microtubule sheath that surrounds and extends tailwards from the nucleus of developing spermatids. Using a gene editing tool, Dr. Zhibing Zhang and his colleagues were able to trigger a mutation in MEIG1 and examine the effects in mice. All mutant male mice examined were infertile and their sperm count was drastically reduced. These findings demonstrate that a specific amino acid in MEIG1 is a key component in sperm flagella formation and small molecules that inhibit MEIG1/PARCG interaction could be a viable pathway towards novel male contraceptives.
Published by MCI Staff, this article outlines the need for an enhanced focus on contraceptive research by the reproductive biology research community and also outlines the ways that MCI can support individual research projects. To-date, contraceptive development has primarily focused on providing egg producers the necessary tools to control their fertility. However, sperm producers have seen comparatively few developments with regards to ensuring their reproductive autonomy. MCI is in an ideal position to stimulate engagement in the field of non-hormonal reversible male contraception and foster support for novel male contraceptives. The organization accomplishes this by supporting promising male contraceptive targets in all stages of the development process, providing opportunities for young researchers and public health students to conduct their own research programs, and encouraging public and private donors to invest in novel contraceptive projects. MCI is steadily working towards a future where everyone has the tools they need and are empowered to achieve their reproductive goals.
Are there any interesting publications about non-hormonal, reversible male contraception that you'd like to see featured? Please reach out to us and share your thoughts!