Spermatogonial stem cells and male fertility

Research area

 |  Male fertility


 |  Stem cells, Fertility, Regeneration, Ageing


 |  PhD/Doctorate, Honours, Masters

Project description

The production of sperm and male fertility are dependent on a population of cells found in the testis known as spermatogonial stem cells or SSCs. Despite the importance of SSCs for male fertility, the molecular mechanisms that regulate their function are very poorly understood.

SSC function and male fertility can be compromised by multiple factors including ageing or exposure to genotoxic drugs. Increased paternal age is associated with disruption of SSC activity and declining sperm quality, with an elevated risk of genetic diseases in offspring. Infertility can also occur prematurely in men because of genotoxic therapies such as chemotherapy. However, cellular pathways regulating the regenerative response of SSCs following germline damage and loss of SSC function with age are poorly studied.

The research in our group focuses on understanding genetic controls and cellular pathways regulating SSC function and male fertility. We employ a range of in vivo models and in vitro experimental systems allowing dissection of mammalian SSC function. Current research projects are focused on understanding cellular machinery modulating the response of SSCs to stimuli from the testis niche, the impacts of ageing on SSC function and molecular mechanisms supporting the regenerative capacity of SSCs.