Japanese researchers have recently discovered the fact that a genetic switch in germ cells is responsible for egg or sperm formation. This conclusion was reached after scientists carefully observed the evolution off germ cells once their gene segment foxl3 has been removed.
Minoru Tanaka of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Japan has gathered a group of researchers to determine whether germ cells can choose the sex cells they want to produce or not. The study was inspired by a past finding suggesting that Medaka (Oryzias latipes), also known, the Japanese rice fish changes its gender based on surrounding circumstances.
The aforementioned discovery has already been proven on numerous occasions, but scientists wanted to identify the exact factor leading to the alteration of the sex cells. For that matter, Tanaka and his colleagues removed the foxl3 gene of a given number of rice fish exemplars and observed their behavior within a specific time interval.
At the end of the experiment, results have shown that female fish developed sperm cells instead of eggs. Further analyses have indicated that the appearance and the sexual organs of the female fish have remained unchanged, as well, even though they no longer produced female eggs, but rather male sperm.
Scientists have thus, concluded that the genetic switch in germ cells is responsible for egg or sperm formation and not the other processes that researchers have put forth during past experiments. They have explained that normally, vertebrates have germ cells in their bodies that are capable of becoming either eggs or sperm, depending on various circumstances. However, it is the foxl3 gene that switches between the choices of female or male cells.
The experiment has given scientists the possibility to produce large amounts of sperm cells. They have later on studied the particularities of egg cell formation processes as they conducted additional experiments. Comparisons between the two studies have revealed that female vertebrates take less time to produce sperm cells than male vertebrates require for the production of egg cells.
Experts at the National Institute of Natural Sciences in Japan have concluded their declaration by suggesting that a similar gene may be found in the human body, as well. Based on their declarations, the human body does not hold the foxl3 gene, but chances are, that a specific gene might influence the formation of female or male sex cells.
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