Scientists study testicles of gnats to understand production of particular genes

Analyzing the testicles of fruit flies, a group of researchers at Rockefeller University confirmed that the testicles themselves are not only “sperm factories” but can also be used to create new genes.

In their research, published in eLife, the researchers studied a number of genes originated in the testicles discovered by other research in recent years. They identified and decoded the RNA sequences contained in individual cells within the testicles and eventually marked them to follow their development.

They analyzed particular types of young genes that are born from scratch rather than duplicating existing genes. About 15% of these new genes appeared at the beginning of cell development, even in stem cells, which surprised the researchers themselves. The most active period for genes born from scratch occurred at mid-flow, in the so-called spermatocyte phase, i.e. the development of sperm.

Gold scientists also want to understand what these new genes are for because some of them seem to appear by chance and make no contribution to development even though Li Zhao, the scientist who led the research, thinks that they play a role in the maturation of sperm cells.

New research will be needed to understand what these genes are used for and what precisely their role is.