Differential genes expression between fertile and infertile spermatozoa revealed by transcriptome analysis

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Background: It was believed earlier that spermatozoa have no traces of RNA because of loss of most of the cytoplasm. Recent studies have revealed the presence of about 3000 different kinds of mRNAs in ejaculated spermatozoa. However, the correlation of transcriptome profile with infertility remains obscure. Methods: Total RNA from sperm (after exclusion of somatic cells) of 60 men consisting of individuals with known fertility (n=20), idiopathic infertility (normozoospermic patients, n=20), and asthenozoospermia (n=20) was isolated. After RNA quality check on Bioanalyzer, Affymetrix-GeneChip Human Gene 1.0 ST Array was used for expression profiling, which consisted of >30,000 coding transcripts and >11,000 long intergenic non-coding transcripts. Results: Comparison between all three groups revealed that two thousand and eighty one transcripts were differentially expressed. Analysis of these transcripts showed that some transcripts [ribosomal proteins (RPS25, RPS11, RPS13, RPL30, RPL34, RPL27, RPS5), HINT1, HSP90AB1, SRSF9, EIF4G2, ILF2] were up-regulated in the normozoospermic group, but down-regulated in the asthenozoospermic group in comparison to the control group. Some transcripts were specific to the normozoospermic group (up-regulated: CAPNS1, FAM153C, ARF1, CFL1, RPL19, USP22; down-regulated: ZNF90, SMNDC1, c14orf126, HNRNPK), while some were specific to the asthenozoospermic group (up-regulated: RPL24, HNRNPM, RPL4, PRPF8, HTN3, RPL11, RPL28, RPS16, SLC25A3, C2orf24, RHOA, GDI2, NONO, PARK7; down-regulated: HNRNPC, SMARCAD1, RPS24, RPS24, RPS27A, KIFAP3). A number of differentially expressed transcripts in spermatozoa were related to reproduction (n = 58) and development (n= 210). Some of these transcripts were related to heat shock proteins (DNAJB4, DNAJB14), testis specific genes (TCP11, TESK1, TSPYL1, ADAD1), and Y-chromosome genes (DAZ1, TSPYL1). Conclusion: A complex RNA population in spermatozoa consisted of coding and non-coding RNAs. A number of transcripts that participate in a host of cellular processes, including reproduction and development were differentially expressed between fertile and infertile individuals. Differences between comparison groups suggest that sperm RNA has strong potential of acting as markers for fertility evaluation.




Bansal, S. K., Gupta, N., Sankhwar, S. N., & Rajender, S. (2015). Differential genes expression between fertile and infertile spermatozoa revealed by transcriptome analysis. PLoS ONE, 10(5). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0127007

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