Selfish sperm genes 'poison' the competition for the win

Imagine poisoning your rival and yourself and giving only yourself the antidote.

Credit: ThorstenSchmitt/Adobe Stock
  • The t-haplotype alleles play dirty when it comes to reaching the egg first.
  • In order for their nefarious scene to work, just the right amount of a certain protein has to be present.
  • Experiments with mouse sperm reveal the whole complicated story.
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Two men with each holding a baby.

Remember that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Junior where he was pregnant? Though it seemed hilarious and over-the-top at the time, scientists are actually close to making such a thing possible, sort of. Researchers at the University of Bath in the UK have opened up the possibility of an embryo using only male cells. Working with mice, they made a pseudo-embryo called a “parthenogenote.” This was an embryo created without sperm. The feat is performed by fooling an egg cell into thinking it’s been fertilized. Usually, a parthenogenote dies off after a few days. But here, scientists were able to fertilize them with a sperm cell, and inject each embryo into a female mouse.

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