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September 17, 2012

Characterization of the involvement of integrins to the oocyte in bovine fertilization

Name: Benjamin Sessions
Major: Animal, dairy and veterinary science
Department: ADVS
Graduation date: Fall 2012 (PhD)
Title: Characterization of the involvement of integrins, focal adhesion kinase, and phospholipase C enzymes endogenous to the oocyte in bovine fertilization and oocyte activation

The Center for Integrated Biosystems (CIB) and Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences (ADVS) Department at Utah State University propose a multi-year molecular study of cattle gamete interactions to improve our basic understanding of fertilization. The CIB and ADVS will utilize existing collaborations in addition to recruiting state and federal funding sources to complete the extensive project. Various laboratory techniques will be used to discover the molecular players of fertilization in hopes of shedding light on a variety of human infertility issues due to problems at the gamete level. A more complete understanding of fertilization could also lead to the development of improved contraceptives. Another potential outcome is improved efficiency associated with animal cloning. Currently cloning technology involves multiple non-natural techniques that could be contributing to the poor success rate of animal cloning. A better understanding of fertilization at the molecular level could lead to a more natural way of cloning animals. Cloning technology has a great potential of producing transgenic animals for biopharmaceutical production, creating animal models to study human diseases, rescuing endangered species, and producing stem cells. Improving the efficiency of animal cloning will allow for faster advancements and benefits of this technology.