Blog Post 1: Using the Model Organism, Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), to Evaluate the Function of Homologous Genes Hypothesized to Impact Male Infertility

Male infertility can result from low sperm production, abnormal sperm function, or defects in sperm delivery. The mammalian fertilization process begins with the fusion of two germ cells. More specifically, the spermatozoa enter the female reproductive tract and are required to migrate to the oviduct. The oviduct is where the spermatozoa meet the ovulated eggs. However, this process often is not successful because of genetic mutations in the sperm. I am interested in determining how different genes mutated in sperm impact the rate of infertility.

More specifically, I am interested in analyzing how double mutations influence infertility. As a model to study sperm development, I am using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans). C. elegans is a well-established genetic system that can be used to determine how my genes of interests control spermiogenesis and how their misregulation could lead to infertility. Using Celegans as a model system, we are using a genome sequenced multi-mutation library, from the Million Mutation Project, to identify genes associated with defects in sperm. We will than analyze the rate of fertility of single mutants versus double mutants. We are going to use those orthologs and perform structure-function analysis using single mutants to understand better which domains of the gene the mutation impacts. In the end, this analysis will help us better understand infertility and will help us identify how specific genes interact with one another.

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