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Hum Reprod. 2016 Dec;31(12):2881-2891. Epub 2016 Nov 7.

Sequence variation at KLK and WFDC clusters and its association to semen hyperviscosity and other male infertility phenotypes.

Author information

1
Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto (i3S), 4200-135 Porto, Portugal.
2
Institute of Molecular Pathology and Immunology of the University of Porto (IPATIMUP), 4200-135 Porto, Portugal.
3
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology-IUOPA, University of Oviedo, 33006 Oviedo, Spain.
4
Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar (ICBAS), University of Porto, 4050-313 Porto, Portugal.
5
Human Genetics Department, National Institute of Health Dr Ricardo Jorge (INSA), 1649-016 Lisboa, Portugal.
6
Center of Infertility and Sterility Studies (CEIE), 4050-345 Porto, Portugal.
7
Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Porto, 4169-007 Porto, Portugal.
8
Center for Reproductive Genetics Alberto Barros, 4100-009 Porto, Portugal.
9
Department of Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Porto, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal.
10
Proteomics Platform CICbioGUNE, CIBERehd, ProteoRed-ISCIII, Parque Tecnologico de Bizkaia, Derio, Spain.
11
Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, 4200-319 Porto, Portugal.
12
Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Universidade do Porto (i3S), 4200-135 Porto, Portugal sseixas@ipatimup.pt.

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION:

Are kallikreins (KLKs), the whey-acidic-protein four-disulfide core domain (WFDCs) and their neighbors, semenogelins (SEMGs), known to play a role in the cascade of semen coagulation and liquefaction, associated with male infertility?

SUMMARY ANSWER:

Several KLK and SEMG variants are overrepresented among hyperviscosity, asthenozoospermia and oligozoospermia, supporting an effect of abnormal semen liquefaction on the loss of semen quality and in lowering male reproductive fitness.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY:

In the cascade of semen coagulation and liquefaction the spermatozoa coated by EPPIN (a protease inhibitor of the WFDC family) are entrapped in a cross-linked matrix established by SEMGs. After ejaculation, the SEMG matrix is hydrolyzed by KLK3/2 in a fine-tuned process regulated by other KLKs that allows the spermatozoa to increase motility.

STUDY DESIGN SIZE, DURATION:

This study includes a cohort of 238 infertility-related cases and 91 controls with normal spermiogram analysis. The remaining 126 controls are healthy males with unknown semen parameters. Sample collection was carried out from June 2011 to January 2015 and variant screening from May 2013 to August 2015.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS:

We performed a screening by massive parallel sequencing in a pooled sample (N = 222) covering approximately 93 kb of KLK (19q13.3-13.4) and WFDC (20q13) clusters, followed by the genotyping of most promising variants in the full cohort.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE:

Overall, 160 common and 296 low-frequency variants passed the quality control filtering. Statistical tests disclosed an association with hyperviscosity of a KLK7 regulatory variant (P = 0.0035), and unveiled a higher burden of deleterious mutations in KLKs than expected by chance (P = 0.0106). KLK variants found to be overrepresented in cases included two substitutions likely affecting the substrate binding pocket, two nonsynonymous variants overlapping in the three-dimensional structure and two mutations mapping in consecutive N-terminal residues. Other variants identified in SEMGs possibly contributing to hyperviscosity and asthenozoospermia consisted of three replacements predicted to modify targets of proteolysis (P = 0.0442 for SEMG1 p.Gly400Asp) and a copy number variation associated with a reduced risk of oligozoospermia (P = 0.0293).

LARGE SCALE DATA:

Not applicable.

LIMITATIONS REASONS FOR CAUTION:

The sampling of a few hundred individuals has limited power to detected associations with low-frequency variants and only a small set of variants was prioritized for genotyping. Other susceptibility variants for male infertility may remain unidentified.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS:

We provide important evidence for an effect of KLKs and SEMGs variability on semen quality and for modifications in the process of semen liquefaction as a possible cause for male infertility.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS:

This work was funded through the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) and FEDER through COMPETE and QREN. The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

KEYWORDS:

genetic susceptibility; prostate-specific antigen; rare variants; semen coagulation and liquefaction; semenogelins

PMID:
27827323
DOI:
10.1093/humrep/dew267
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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