Sertoli cells are essential for spermatogenesis because of their interactions with germ cells, and a defect in their function can lead to the absence of spermatozoa (azoospermia) and male infertility. In January 29 online Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Mito Kanatsu-Shinohara and colleagues from Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan, show that adenovirus-mediated gene delivery into Sertoli cells of infertile mice could successfully restore production of fertile spermatozoa.

Kanatsu-Shinohara et al. used a murine model of male infertility in which Sertoli cells lack the membrane-bound 'Steel' factor; with the result that spermatogenesis does not occur. In these mice they found that introduction of an adenovirus carrying the mouse Steel (Sl) gene into Sertoli cells could restore partial spermatogenesis. The male mice remained infertile, but the resulting spermatozoa produced normal fertile offspring after intracytoplasmic injection into oocytes. In addition, none of the offspring...

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