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Scientific reports

Excess of rare variants in genes that are key epigenetic regulators of spermatogenesis in the patients with non-obstructive azoospermia.


PMID 25739334

Abstract

Non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA), a severe form of male infertility, is often suspected to be linked to currently undefined genetic abnormalities. To explore the genetic basis of this condition, we successfully sequenced ~650 infertility-related genes in 757 NOA patients and 709 fertile males. We evaluated the contributions of rare variants to the etiology of NOA by identifying individual genes showing nominal associations and testing the genetic burden of a given biological process as a whole. We found a significant excess of rare, non-silent variants in genes that are key epigenetic regulators of spermatogenesis, such as BRWD1, DNMT1, DNMT3B, RNF17, UBR2, USP1 and USP26, in NOA patients (P = 5.5 × 10(-7)), corresponding to a carrier frequency of 22.5% of patients and 13.7% of controls (P = 1.4 × 10(-5)). An accumulation of low-frequency variants was also identified in additional epigenetic genes (BRDT and MTHFR). Our study suggested the potential associations of genetic defects in genes that are epigenetic regulators with spermatogenic failure in human.