Analysis of copy number variation in men with non-obstructive azoospermia


  • M.J. Wyrwoll
  • R. Wabschke
  • A. Röpke
  • M. Wöste
  • C. Ruckert
  • S. Perrey
  • N. Rotte
  • J. Hardy
  • L. Astica
  • D.G. Lupianez
  • J. Wistuba
  • B. Westernströer
  • S. Schlatt
  • A.J. Berman
  • A.M. Müller
  • S. Kliesch
  • A.N. Yatsenko
  • F. Tüttelmann
  • C. Friedrich


  • Andrology


  • Andrology 10 (8): 1593-1604


  • BACKGROUND: Recent findings demonstrate that single nucleotide variants can cause non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA). In contrast, copy number variants (CNVs) were only analysed in few studies in infertile men. Some have reported a higher prevalence of CNVs in infertile versus fertile men. OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to elucidate if CNVs are associated with NOA. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We performed array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) in 37 men with meiotic arrest, 194 men with Sertoli cell-only phenotype, and 21 control men. We filtered our data for deletions affecting genes and prioritized the affected genes according to a literature search. Prevalence of CNVs was compared between all groups. Exome data of 2,030 men were screened to detect further genetic variants in prioritized genes. Modelling was performed for the protein encoded by the novel candidate gene TEKT5 and we stained for TEKT5 in human testicular tissue. RESULTS: We determined the cause of infertility in two individuals with homozygous deletions of SYCE1 and in one individual with a heterozygous deletion of SYCE1 combined with a likely pathogenic missense variant on the second allele. We detected heterozygous deletions affecting MLH3, EIF2B2, SLX4, CLPP and TEKT5, in one subject each. CNVs were not detected more frequently in infertile men compared with controls. DISCUSSION: While SYCE1 and MLH3 encode known meiosis-specific proteins, much less is known about the proteins encoded by the other identified candidate genes, warranting further analyses. We were able to identify the cause of infertility in one out of the 231 infertile men by aCGH and in two men by using exome sequencing data. CONCLUSION: As aCGH and exome sequencing are both expensive methods, combining both in a clinical routine is not an effective strategy. Instead, using CNV calling from exome data has recently become more precise, potentially making aCGH dispensable.