Unpackaging the genetics of mammalian fertility: Strategies to identify the "reproductive genome".

John C Schimenti
Mary Ann Handel, The Jackson Laboratory


Gene mutations, including different alleles of the same gene, are tremendously useful in deconstructing complex developmental systems, such as reproduction, into component molecular pathways. For this reason, great effort has been devoted in the past three decades to biased (reverse genetic) and unbiased (forward genetic) searches for new genes that impact mammalian reproduction and fertility. These efforts have more recently been complemented with international efforts to systematically mutate all mouse genes and to determine their phenotypes (essentially a hybrid of forward and reverse genetics). Here, we survey the available data on the relative productivity of these approaches in identifying fertility genes, estimate the number of protein-coding genes essential for fertility of males and females, and predict the next major directions in the genetics of reproduction and fertility. Biol Reprod 2018 Jun 6 [Epub ahead of print]