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      Phenotyping male infertility in the mouse: how to get the most out of a ‘non-performer’

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          Functional male gametes are produced through complex processes that take place within the testis, epididymis and female reproductive tract. A breakdown at any of these phases can result in male infertility. The production of mutant mouse models often yields an unexpected male infertility phenotype. It is with this in mind that the current review has been written. The review aims to act as a guide to the ‘non-reproductive biologist’ to facilitate a systematic analysis of sterile or subfertile mice and to assist in extracting the maximum amount of information from each model.


          This is a review of the original literature on defects in the processes that take a mouse spermatogonial stem cell through to a fully functional spermatozoon, which result in male infertility. Based on literature searches and personal experience, we have outlined a step-by-step strategy for the analysis of an infertile male mouse line.


          A wide range of methods can be used to define the phenotype of an infertile male mouse. These methods range from histological methods such as electron microscopy and immunohistochemistry, to hormone analyses and methods to assess sperm maturation status and functional competence.


          With the increased rate of genetically modified mouse production, the generation of mouse models with unexpected male infertility is increasing. This manuscript will help to ensure that the maximum amount of information is obtained from each mouse model and, by extension, will facilitate the knowledge of both normal fertility processes and the causes of human infertility.

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          Most cited references 240

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          The ciliopathies: an emerging class of human genetic disorders.

          Cilia and flagella are ancient, evolutionarily conserved organelles that project from cell surfaces to perform diverse biological roles, including whole-cell locomotion; movement of fluid; chemo-, mechano-, and photosensation; and sexual reproduction. Consistent with their stringent evolutionary conservation, defects in cilia are associated with a range of human diseases, such as primary ciliary dyskinesia, hydrocephalus, polycystic liver and kidney disease, and some forms of retinal degeneration. Recent evidence indicates that ciliary defects can lead to a broader set of developmental and adult phenotypes, with mutations in ciliary proteins now associated with nephronophthisis, Bardet-Biedl syndrome, Alstrom syndrome, and Meckel-Gruber syndrome. The molecular data linking seemingly unrelated clinical entities are beginning to highlight a common theme, where defects in ciliary structure and function can lead to a predictable phenotypic pattern that has potentially predictive and therapeutic value.
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            The biology of infertility: research advances and clinical challenges.

            Reproduction is required for the survival of all mammalian species, and thousands of essential 'sex' genes are conserved through evolution. Basic research helps to define these genes and the mechanisms responsible for the development, function and regulation of the male and female reproductive systems. However, many infertile couples continue to be labeled with the diagnosis of idiopathic infertility or given descriptive diagnoses that do not provide a cause for their defect. For other individuals with a known etiology, effective cures are lacking, although their infertility is often bypassed with assisted reproductive technologies (ART), some accompanied by safety or ethical concerns. Certainly, progress in the field of reproduction has been realized in the twenty-first century with advances in the understanding of the regulation of fertility, with the production of over 400 mutant mouse models with a reproductive phenotype and with the promise of regenerative gonadal stem cells. Indeed, the past six years have witnessed a virtual explosion in the identification of gene mutations or polymorphisms that cause or are linked to human infertility. Translation of these findings to the clinic remains slow, however, as do new methods to diagnose and treat infertile couples. Additionally, new approaches to contraception remain elusive. Nevertheless, the basic and clinical advances in the understanding of the molecular controls of reproduction are impressive and will ultimately improve patient care.
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              Spermatogenic cells of the prepuberal mouse: isolation and morphological characterization

              A procedure is described which permits the isolation from the prepuberal mouse testis of highly purified populations of primitive type A spermatogonia, type A spermatogonia, type B spermatogonia, preleptotene primary spermatocytes, leptotene and zygotene primary spermatocytes, pachytene primary spermatocytes and Sertoli cells. The successful isolation of these prepuberal cell types was accomplished by: (a) defining distinctive morphological characteristics of the cells, (b) determining the temporal appearance of spermatogenic cells during prepuberal development, (c) isolating purified seminiferous cords, after dissociation of the testis with collagenase, (d) separating the trypsin-dispersed seminiferous cells by sedimentation velocity at unit gravity, and (e) assessing the identity and purity of the isolated cell types by microscopy. The seminiferous epithelium from day 6 animals contains only primitive type A spermatogonia and Sertoli cells. Type A and type B spermatogonia are present by day 8. At day 10, meiotic prophase is initiated, with the germ cells reaching the early and late pachytene stages by 14 and 18, respectively. Secondary spermatocytes and haploid spermatids appear throughout this developmental period. The purity and optimum day for the recovery of specific cell types are as follows: day 6, Sertoli cells (purity>99 percent) and primitive type A spermatogonia (90 percent); day 8, type A spermatogonia (91 percent) and type B spermatogonia (76 percent); day 18, preleptotene spermatocytes (93 percent), leptotene/zygotene spermatocytes (52 percent), and pachytene spermatocytes (89 percent), leptotene/zygotene spermatocytes (52 percent), and pachytene spermatocytes (89 percent).

                Author and article information

                Hum Reprod Update
                Human Reproduction Update
                Oxford University Press
                Mar-Apr 2010
                15 September 2009
                15 September 2009
                : 16
                : 2
                : 205-224
                [1 ]Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology, The School of Biomedical Sciences, Monash University , Clayton 3800, Australia
                [2 ]Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Biotechnology and Development, Monash University , Clayton 3800, Australia
                Author notes
                [3 ]Correspondence address: Tel: +61-3-99029283; Fax: +61-3-99029223; Email: moira.o'bryan@ 123456med.monash.edu.au
                © The Author 2009. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.5/uk/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


                Human biology

                mouse models, spermatogenesis, spermiogenesis, infertility


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