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How the Sperm Builds Its Tail

by Kathy Jones on August 16, 2012 at 7:35 PM
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 How the Sperm Builds Its Tail

A new study published in the journal Development Cell reveals that researchers at Portugal's Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC) have discovered the process through which sperm cells of a fruit fly develop their flagella, the slender hair-like structures that extend from the surface of the cells and help them move forward.

These findings pave the way to further understand the molecules and processes that may trigger a variety of human diseases and disorders, including infertility, respiratory problems and hydrocephaly, known to be associated with defects in flagellar movements.

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Using electron microscopy - which allows scientists to see structures that are 3,500 times thinner than a strand of human hair - Monica Bettencourt-Dias and her team described, for the first time ever, the different steps involved in making a motile flagellum in sperm cells of the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster). The team was particularly interested in when and how a critical protein structure - called the central microtubule pair - is formed. Without the central microtubule pair complex, the flagellum is unable to move in a coordinated fashion.



Source: Eurekalert
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