Testis Development and Male Germ Cell Biology

Testis Development and Male Germ Cell Biology Research Group

Research Group Head

The Testis Development and Male Germ Cell Biology research group investigates the fundamental mechanisms that underpin mammalian testis development. Our aim is to identify what molecular switches are needed to produce healthy sperm from primitive germ cells that first form in the fetus. Such knowledge is essential to understand why fertility is compromised in around 10 per cent of Australian couples and why the incidence of testicular germ cell tumours, the most common solid tumour in young men, continues to increase.

This research investigates germ cells during their initial development in the fetus, and follows their progressive maturation in infants, juveniles and as they form sperm in adults. Signalling by activin, Wnt and Hedgehog growth factors and nucleoctyplasmic transport molecules have been all shown to contribute to the creating the correct environment for healthy sperm.

By identifying critical molecular signals by which the supporting cells of the testis communicate with the germ cells for normal spermatogenesis, it is becoming evident that impaired lines of communication may allow germ cell tumours to form or to prevent formation of adequate numbers of sperm for natural conception.

An important strength of our research is strong links with clinical colleagues, including through the International Research Training Group (IRTG) in which PhD students are jointly trained at Monash University and Justus-Liebig University (Giessen, Germany) in the Molecular Pathogenesis of Male Reproduction.

Current Research

Activin actions in the developing testis
Snail proteins contribute to testis development and male germ cell tumours
Hedgehog pathway targets in the male germline
Wnt signalling control of spermatogenesis
The roles of nucleocytoplasmic transport machinery in germline stress and transcriptional responses

Research Group