university of pittsburgh
center for research in reproductive physiology
 
university of pittsburgh school of medicine
 
 

Faculty and Research Interests

Aleksandar Rajkovic
M.D., Ph.D., Case Western Reserve School of Medicine

Over the past 10 years, Dr. Rajkovic’s scientific focus has been on the genetics of germ cell development. His laboratory has utilized mouse transgenic models to discover novel germ cell specific transcriptional regulators that play an important role in male and female gonadal development. They have discovered some of the first germ cell specific transcriptional regulators of oocyte differentiation: Nobox, Lhx8, Sohlh1 and Sohlh2, and of spermatogonial differentiation: Sohlh1 and Sohlh2. There are two major interests in the laboratory. One concerns the transcriptional regulation of ovarian development, and the identification of genetic markers that can predict human ovarian failure. Dr. Rajkovic and his colleagues have identified oocyte specific pathways that lead to ovarian failure in the mouse, and are focusing on mechanistically dissecting signaling and transcriptional cascades that are critical in the transition from germ cell clusters to primordial follicles. Candidate gene approaches have been conducted to identify genes responsible for premature ovarian failure, and a subset of transcriptional regulators, such as Nobox and Figla, that are mutated in a subset of women with ovarian failure have been identified. The laboratory’s second major interest lies in determining the transcriptional regulation of spermatogonial differentiation. Deficiency of Sohlh1 and Sohlh2 in the male causes a block in the differentiation of type A spermatogonia, and dramatically affects Kit expression. Pathways whereby Sohlh2 and Sohlh2 regulate the differentiation of type A spermatogonia are being identified. Transgenic and biochemical approaches are being utilized to also understand Sohlh’s interacting factors, and their effects on spermatogonial stem cells. Dr. Rajkovic’s findings in the mouse are being translated to man in order to identify candidate genes for human cases of azoospermia, and he is pursuing genomic approaches to identify genetic markers of male infertility.

Representative Publications

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