News of the WeekDevelopmental Biology

Selenium's Role in Infertility Explained

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Science  27 Aug 1999:
Vol. 285, Issue 5432, pp. 1339
DOI: 10.1126/science.285.5432.1339a

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New results may help explain the long-standing mystery of why selenium deficiency in lab and domestic animals makes their sperm fragile, leading to male sterility. On page 1393, biochemists report that a previously identified selenium-containing enzyme which helps rid developing sperm of dangerous reactive oxygen molecules, moonlights as part of the glue that holds mature sperm together. The result opens the door to a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying normal sperm development, presumably in humans as well as in animals, say experts.