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Class of RNA Molecules Protects Germ Cells From Damage, University of Pennsylvania Reveals


11/16/2012 6:34:09 AM

Passing one's genes on to the next generation is a mark of evolutionary success. So it makes sense that the body would work to ensure that the genes the next generation inherits are exact replicas of the originals.

New research by biologists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine has now identified one way the body does exactly that. This protective role is fulfilled in part by a class of small RNA molecules called pachytene piwi-interacting RNAs, or piRNAs. Without them, germ-cell development in males comes to a halt. Because these play such an important role in allowing sperm to develop normally, the research indicates that defects in these molecules or the molecules with which they interact may be responsible for some cases of male infertility.

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