Swiss researchers identify genetic mutation that causes defective sperm in boars

Researchers from EHT Zurich have identified a gene mutation that immobilises sperm in boars, potentially giving pig farmers an advantage when creating a breeding strategy.
calendar icon 3 February 2021
clock icon 3 minute read

The genes “mapped” the blueprint for a protein involved in building the sperm tail. The mutation causes a defect in production of the protein in question, leading to proteins that are too short and thus not functional. As a result, the sperm tail cannot form correctly.

“From a genetic point of view, this mutation is unusual,” Pausch says. It affects a gene sequence that is non-​coding, which is to say it doesn’t contain any information for the construction of the protein itself. Rather, this sequence is a control element that is needed to correctly cut the RNA transcript of the gene and reattach the loose ends. The mutation leads to a defective transcript, which in turn means dysfunctional proteins are synthesised.

But because this mutation occurs at an unusual site, it wasn’t obvious to the researchers when they began their search. Pausch says that there are only a handful of studies worldwide showing similar DNA changes in livestock.

Thanks to these new findings, pig farmers can now have breeding boars specifically tested for this mutation. At first this might sound like a superfluous examination, since deformed sperm can actually be seen under the microscope.

Read the full analysis here.

© 2000 - 2024 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.