The JAX Center for Genetics of Fertility and Reproduction
Scientists in the JAX Center for Genetics of Fertility and Reproduction work on a variety of scientific problems of relevance to fertility and newborn health. Work by the Center scientists includes studies on genetic factors determining gestation length, mechanisms of cell division of germ cells and embryos, genes regulating formation of the male and female gametes (sperm and eggs), effects of radiation and chemotherapy on production of gametes, and basic genetic factors crucial for determining the normal chromosomal constitution of both gametes and embryos. These exciting studies rest on a rich foundation of research in the reproductive sciences over the years at JAX, including the first discovery of stem cells, pioneering the methods for cryopreserving sperm and embryos used for fertility preservation in humans today, and development of the methods for fertilization in vitro and embryo culture that form the basis for today’s artificial reproductive techniques (ARTs) such as IVF. In addition to the important contributions to human clinical reproductive medicine, these ground-breaking studies have enabled preservation and maintenance of thousands of mutant strains of mice that are informing all branches of clinical medicine and personalized treatments.
A major current and future goal of the JAX Center for Genetics of Fertility and Reproduction is development of mutant and engineered mouse models for research on poorly understood reproductive processes required for normal fertility and birth. As one example, many mutant models have been produced by the Reproductive Genomics Program, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. A collaborative effort among the laboratories of John Eppig, Mary Ann Handel, and John Schimenti, the program used random chemical mutagenesis to produce mouse models of infertility. Together, the more than 50 models produced identify new pathways in reproduction, including roles of non-coding RNAs, epigenetic modifications, and specificity in regulation of protein synthesis. The Reproductive Genomics Program has provided breeding stock of these valuable models to scientists world-wide, and collaborative projects have been developed. Investigative science leading to informative models is continuing through the Knockout Mouse Project and the JAX Repository in Genetic Resource Sciences. Collaborative opportunities exist for the development and distribution of new mouse models of human reproductive disease using forward and reverse genetic approaches, CRISPR modification, etc. For more information contact Dr. Laura Reinholdt.
By these and other avenues, the JAX Center for Genetics of Fertility and Reproduction looks forward to clinical collaborations that will contribute to the goal of deeper understanding of molecular and physiological mechanisms of reproduction ensuring fertility and healthy offspring.
A research team led by Professor and Janeway Distinguished Chair Robert Braun, Ph.D., and Associate Research Scientist Manju Sharma, Ph.D., found a rare subpopulation of spermatogonial cells expressing a specific protein, EOMES, that appear to represent the elusive long-lived spermatogonial stem cells that support continued spermatogenesis.
Maintaining experimental mouse colonies is a lot like juggling. There are a lot of balls that you have to keep in the air all the time. You need to evaluate the breeding performance, adjust the colony size to match required production, genotype the mice, and then plan and execute your experiments. It is easy to have concerns about genetic drift far down on your list of priorities. However, for mutant or transgenic mouse strains on inbred backgrounds dealing with potential genetic drift needs to be a priority.