Doha, – Qatar University College of Medicine (QU-CMED) in collaboration with researchers from Cardiff University conducted a research which showed that an important sperm protein required for the egg fertilization process, known as phospholipase C zeta, is ineffective in individuals suffering from infertility.

Led by CMED Assistant Professor of Biochemistry Dr Michail Nomikos, the team could start the fertilization process in the lab by injecting eggs with a higher amount of the protein from the infertile men than found naturally in their sperm. These results suggest that this type of infertility could become reversible with medical assistance.

“This study discovered that recombinant PLC protein can successfully replace sperm and trigger development of the egg, up to the blastocyst embryo stage,” Nomikos said. He added that the research has given hope to many couples facing problems of male infertility.

“We are currently developing the use of recombinant PLC protein as a therapeutic agent to treat such cases of male infertility. The research also focuses on the production of PLC antibodies, which could be used for potential clinical diagnosis of such cases of male infertility,” he said.

Recent clinical studies have reported on infertile males with normal sperm parameters (morphology and motility), however their sperm fails to initiate fertilization. Even though their sperm can fuse with the egg, after this event, nothing happens. It was discovered that sperm from these infertile patients lack a proper functioning version of a sperm protein, called Phospholipase C zeta. Sperm PLC is essential to trigger the first stage of fertilization by initiating a process called “egg activation”.

Before fertilization, the egg is in a dormant (sleeping) state and all the biological processes required for the growth and development of an embryo are on pause. Upon fertilization, when a sperm fuses with the egg, the sperm PLC protein is delivered into the egg and stimulates all the critical events of egg activation that trigger early embryo development.

The team investigated the effects of this infertility-linked PLC mutation in more detail. They found that injecting the abnormal PLC protein into mouse eggs at levels comparable with those found in the sperm of the infertile men resulted in no calcium oscillations and therefore no fertilization. However, if they increased the amounts of the protein they injected to a higher level than would be present naturally, the normal fertilization process began and calcium oscillations were observed. (QNA)

Source: Qatar News Agency