Martine Culty’s research focuses on identifying the mechanisms controlling the proliferation and differentiation of neonatal gonocytes, precursors of male germline stem cells, and the effects of environmental chemicals on testis development. Perturbation of gonocyte development can result in infertility or testicular tumors. Because testis development is dependent on sex hormones, it is very sensitive to chemicals that interfere with androgen and estrogen homeostasis and action. Culty’s group has identified molecules and pathways involved in the regulation of gonocyte development, including elements of the ubiquitin proteasome system, which are under investigation. In utero exposure of rats to endocrine disruptors, including estrogenic compounds and the plasticizer DEHP, they have unveiled short- and long-term testicular targets that are the object of current studies. These studies will help understanding early phases of spermatogenesis and better assess the risk posed by endocrine disruptors to the reproductive system.
The Culty Lab
The Culty lab has two main research interests: 1) identifying the mechanisms controlling the development of gonocytes, precursors of male germline stem cells and 2) determining the effects of environmental chemical mixtures on testis development and function. Perturbation of gonocyte development can result in infertility or testicular tumor. Thus, our first goal is to identify factors and signaling pathways involved in gonocyte proliferation and differentiation, in order to unveil new targets of testicular cancer treatment. This model can also be used to test drug effects on neonatal germ cells. Because testis development is dependent on sex hormones, it is very sensitive to chemicals interfering with androgen and estrogen homeostasis and action. Our second goal is to determine the impact of fetal exposure to common endocrine disruptor mixtures, at doses relevant to human exposure, on testicular development and function across the lifespan, using the rat model. These studies will aid better assessing endocrine disruptor risks to the reproductive system. Our studies involve a variety of molecular, cellular, pharmacological and toxicological approaches, applied on in vivo animal models, primary cells, cell lines and human tissues specimen.