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J Med Genet. 2014 Apr;51(4):239-44. doi: 10.1136/jmedgenet-2013-102102. Epub 2014 Jan 15.

Truncating mutations in TAF4B and ZMYND15 causing recessive azoospermia.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey.



Azoospermia is the absence of a measurable level of spermatozoa in the semen. It affects approximately 1% of all men, and the genetic basis of the majority of idiopathic cases is unknown. We investigated two unrelated consanguineous families with idiopathic azoospermia. In family 1, there were three azoospermic brothers and one oligozoospermic brother; and in family 2, there were three azoospermic brothers. Testis biopsy in the brothers in family 2 had led to the diagnosis of maturation arrest in the spermatid stage.


Candidate disease loci were found via linkage mapping using data from single nucleotide polymorphism genome scans. Exome sequencing was applied to find the variants at the loci.


We identified two candidate loci in each family and homozygous truncating mutations p.R611X in TAF4B in family 1 and p.K507Sfs*3 in ZMYND15 in family 2. We did not detect any mutations in these genes in a cohort of 45 azoospermic and 15 oligozoospermic men. Expression studies for ZMYND15 showed that the highest expression was in the testis.


Both genes are known to have roles in spermatogenesis in mice but neither has been studied in humans. To our knowledge, they are the first genes identified for recessive idiopathic spermatogenic failure in men. Assuming that recessive genes for isolated azoospermia are as numerous in men as in mice, each gene is possibly responsible for only a small fraction of all cases.


Azoospermia; Male Infertility; SPAG7; TAF4B; Zmynd15

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