Professor Moira O'Bryan
Head of School
T: +61 3 9905 5650
Dr Avinash Gaikwad
Dr Brendan Houston
Dr Denis Korneev
Dr Jessica Dunleavy
Casual Research Assistant
O'Bryan Lab Group
(L-R) Back Row: Jo Merriner, Denis Korneev, Sam Cheers, Anne O'Connor, Christiane Pleuger, Brendan Houston, Hidenobu Okuda
Front Row: Michelina Kierzek (visiting PhD student), Daniel Moya Aguirre, Avinash Gaikwad, Moira O'Bryan, Jinghua Hu, Jessica Dunleavy
We aim to identify key mechanisms required for male germ cell development, the aetiology of human male infertility and the interplay between fertility and health. This is achieved using a range of genomic, biochemical and cell biological methods including the development of unique model systems.
Male fertility research provides data of three-fold value. Firstly male infertility is a major medical problem affecting 1 in 20 Australian men of reproductive age. For the majority of these men the underlying aetiology is unknown and thus, targeted therapies cannot be applied. Secondly, an enhanced understanding of the mechanisms of spermatogenesis (the process of sperm production) may provide opportunities for contraceptive intervention; and thirdly, spermatogenesis has proven to be an extremely productive system within which to discover molecules and processes of fundamental importance to cell biology and human health.
Each of the fields of stem cells, cilia biology, epigenetics and DNA repair had their origins in the testis. In order to produce 1,000 sperm per heart beat, as humans do, stem cells must divide continuously, the DNA breaks inherent in cell division and in meiosis in particular must be faithfully and rapidly repaired, and the thousands of genes involved in forming the highly condensed, and motile sperm must be tightly regulated at each of a transcriptional, translational and post-translational level. Unlike the majority of tissues wherein these processes occur only in discrete developmental processes or in response to challenge, within the testis they occur continuously and on a large scale, thus making spermatogenesis an outstanding system within which to discover novel pathways and to define their in vivo function.
Focus of the Male Infertility and Germ Cell Biology Laboratory include: cilia/flagellar development and function, genetic causes of human infertility, the importance of epigenetic regulation in male fertility, sperm head shaping and the transcriptional and translational control of germ cell expressed genes.
Sperm Tail Movement. Image: Avinash Gaikwad (PhD student)
Seminiferous tubules of the mouse testis stained for sperm tails (orange) and cell nuclei (blue). Image: Jessica Dunleavy (PhD Student)
Microtubule severing during sperm head shaping. Image: Jessica Dunleavy (PhD Student)
Electron micrograph of a sperm tail cross-section. Image: Jo Merriner
Male meiotic chromosomes stained for synaptonemal complexes (red) and histone H4K20 (green). Image: Jo Merriner