George L. Gerton, PhD

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Research Professor of Reproductive Biology in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Department: Obstetrics and Gynecology
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
Center for Research on Reproduction and Women's Health
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
421 Curie Blvd., 1309 Biomedical Research Bldg.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6160
Office: 215 573-4781
Fax: 215 573-5408
Lab: 215-573-9868
BA/honors (Biochemistry/Molecular Biology)
University of California at Santa Barbara, 1975.
PhD (Biochemistry)
University of California at Davis, Dissertation: “Glycoprotein and protein changes in the envelopes from Xenopus laevis eggs.” (Advisor: Jerry L. Hedrick, Ph.D.), 1980.
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Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests
Spermatogenesis, Fertilization, Pre-implantation Mammalian Embryo Development, Health Effects of Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

Key words: Spermatogenesis, Acrosome, Spermatid, Flagellum, Acrosomal matrix, Preimplantation, Embryo, Trophoblast, Progranulin, Hydraulic Fracturing, Marcellus Shale, Geographic Information Systems

Description of Research
The Gerton laboratory uses a multidisciplinary approach to examine issues pertaining to mammalian spermatogenesis, sperm function, and preimplantation embryo development. In addition, we are carrying out clinical studies directed toward improving the diagnosis of ectopic pregnancies.

Several of the major components of the acrosome and sperm tail have been purified and their corresponding cDNAs cloned for studies of protein structure and expression. The deduced amino acid sequences of these proteins have provided new clues concerning the functions of acrosomal and flagellar proteins. One major direction of the laboratory is to study acrosomal and flagellar protein targeting and function in spermatogenic cells and transfected somatic cells using tools of molecular biology and cell biology and to extend these studies to cases of infertility in humans and other species.

Other projects in the laboratory focus upon the functions of proteins identified as components of the sperm acrosome. Acrosomal matrix protein sp56 is involved in sperm-zona pellucida interactions. These studies are leading to a re-evaluation of acrosomal exocytosis. A revised paradigm has been developed that describes acrosomal exocytosis as a continuously variable process with functional intermediates rather a two-step, acrosome-intact/acrosome-reacted, process.

We are also continuing our analysis of the roles of proteins associated with the accessory structures of sperm flagellum. These non-axonemal proteins perform novel functions in regulating sperm motility.

Regarding preimplantation embryo development in mammals, we are studying the function of progranulin, the precursor of the granulin and epithelin peptides, on mouse embryos. Our results show that acrogranin is an essential growth factor for the development of embryos to the blastocyst stage.

Rotation Projects
1. Identification of ligands bound by acrosomal matrix proteins.

2. Effect of recombinant progranulin on cultured somatic and embryonic cells.

3. Role of sp56 as a zona-binding protein (in vitro fertilization experiments).

4. Study the roles of adenine nucleotides (ATP, ADP, and AMP) in regulating sperm motility.

5. Examine the role of soluble adenylyl cyclase in enabling sperm to be capable of fertilization.

Lab personnel:
Kristin M. Bircsak, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher
Latresa V. Copes, MS, Research Specialist
Matthew R. Moronta, Undergraduate Researcher

Selected Publications

Liu Hong, Li Wei, Zhang Yong, Zhang Zhengang, Shang Xuejun, Zhang Ling, Zhang Shiyang, Li Yanwei, Somoza Andres V, Delpi Brandon, Gerton George L, Foster James A, Hess Rex A, Pazour Gregory J, Zhang Zhibing: IFT25, an intraflagellar transporter protein dispensable for ciliogenesis in somatic cells, is essential for sperm flagella formation. Biology of reproduction Apr 2017.

Prantner Andrew M, Ord Teri, Medvedev Sergey, Gerton George L: High-throughput sexing of mouse blastocysts by real-time PCR using dissociation curves. Molecular reproduction and development 83(1): 6-7, Jan 2016.

Jemielita Thomas, Gerton George L, Neidell Matthew, Chillrud Steven, Yan Beizhan, Stute Martin, Howarth Marilyn, Saberi Pouné, Fausti Nicholas, Penning Trevor M, Roy Jason, Propert Kathleen J, Panettieri Reynold A: Correction: Unconventional Gas and Oil Drilling Is Associated with Increased Hospital Utilization Rates. PloS one 10(8): e0137371, 2015.

Jemielita Thomas, Gerton George L, Neidell Matthew, Chillrud Steven, Yan Beizhan, Stute Martin, Howarth Marilyn, Saberi Pouné, Fausti Nicholas, Penning Trevor M, Roy Jason, Propert Kathleen J, Panettieri Reynold A: Unconventional Gas and Oil Drilling Is Associated with Increased Hospital Utilization Rates. PloS one 10(7): e0131093, 2015.

Vadnais Melissa L, Cao Wenlei, Aghajanian Haig K, Haig-Ladewig Lisa, Lin Angel M, Al-Alao Osama, Gerton George L: Adenine nucleotide metabolism and a role for AMP in modulating flagellar waveforms in mouse sperm. Biology of reproduction 90(6): 128, Jun 2014.

Caballero-Campo Pedro, Buffone Mariano G, Benencia Fabian, Conejo-García José R, Rinaudo Paolo F, Gerton George L: A role for the chemokine receptor CCR6 in mammalian sperm motility and chemotaxis. Journal of cellular physiology 229(1): 68-78, Jan 2014.

Vadnais Melissa L, Lin Angel M, Gerton George L: Mitochondrial fusion protein MFN2 interacts with the mitostatin-related protein MNS1 required for mouse sperm flagellar structure and function. Cilia 3: 5, 2014.

Ijiri T W, Vadnais M L, Huang A P, Lin A M, Levin L R, Buck J, Gerton G L: Thiol changes during epididymal maturation: a link to flagellar angulation in mouse spermatozoa? Andrology 2(1): 65-75, Nov 2013.

Vadnais Melissa L, Aghajanian Haig K, Lin Angel, Gerton George L: Signaling in sperm: toward a molecular understanding of the acquisition of sperm motility in the mouse epididymis. Biology of reproduction 89(5): 127, Nov 2013.

Ijiri Takashi W, Vadnais Melissa L, Lin Angel M, Huang Andy P, Cao Wenlei, Merdiushev Tanya, Gerton George L: Male mice express spermatogenic cell-specific triosephosphate isomerase isozymes. Molecular reproduction and development 80(10): 862-70, Oct 2013.

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Last updated: 11/25/2019
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