Dads Play Bigger Role in Fetus Development
Reported June 16, 2009
(Ivanhoe Newswire) — Fathers may contribute more to the conception and development of a fetus than previously thought.
A recent study from Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah, found the father’s sperm delivers much more complex genetic material than once thought. Particular genes are packaged in a special way within the sperm that may help promote the development of the fetus.
During a fetus’ development, certain genes make decisions about the development of organs and tissue. New research shows genes are wrapped in special packaging materials called ‘modified histones’ inside the sperm. These modified histones appear to be key factors in ensuring genes are activated or repressed at the right level, place and time, helping the fertilized egg develop properly.
“Our findings show that the father plays an active role in packaging his genome to help ensure a healthy baby,” Brad Cairns, Ph.D., investigator with HCI and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and professor of oncology sciences at the University of Utah was quoted saying. “However, they also raise the possibility that a man’s aging, health and lifestyles may alter this packaging and negatively affect fertility and embryo development.”
The findings in this study could lead to a diagnostics test to help couples deal with infertility.
SOURCE: Nature, 2009