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Clin Epigenetics. 2019 Aug 28;11(1):127. doi: 10.1186/s13148-019-0720-3.

High-resolution analysis of germ cells from men with sex chromosomal aneuploidies reveals normal transcriptome but impaired imprinting.

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Centre of Reproductive Medicine and Andrology, University of Münster, Domagkstrasse 11, 48149, Münster, Germany.
Department of Neurology, Institute of Translational Neurology, University Hospital of Münster, Münster, Germany.
Centre of Reproductive Medicine and Andrology, Department of Clinical and Surgical Andrology, University of Münster, Münster, Germany.
Centre of Reproductive Medicine and Andrology, University of Münster, Domagkstrasse 11, 48149, Münster, Germany.



The most common sex chromosomal aneuploidy in males is Klinefelter syndrome, which is characterized by at least one supernumerary X chromosome. While these men have long been considered infertile, focal spermatogenesis can be observed in some patients, and sperm can be surgically retrieved and used for artificial reproductive techniques. Although these gametes can be used for fertility treatments, little is known about the molecular biology of the germline in Klinefelter men. Specifically, it is unclear if germ cells in Klinefelter syndrome correctly establish the androgenetic DNA methylation profile and transcriptome. This is due to the low number of germ cells in the Klinefelter testes available for analysis.


Here, we overcame these difficulties and successfully investigated the epigenetic and transcriptional profiles of germ cells in Klinefelter patients employing deep bisulfite sequencing and single-cell RNA sequencing. On the transcriptional level, the germ cells from Klinefelter men clustered together with the differentiation stages of normal spermatogenesis. Klinefelter germ cells showed a normal DNA methylation profile of selected germ cell-specific markers compared with spermatogonia and sperm from men with normal spermatogenesis. However, germ cells from Klinefelter patients showed variations in the DNA methylation of imprinted regions.


These data indicate that Klinefelter germ cells have a normal transcriptome but might present aberrant imprinting, showing impairment in germ cell development that goes beyond mere germ cell loss.


DNA methylation; Deep bisulfite sequencing; Klinefelter syndrome; Male germline; Sex chromosome aneuploidy; Single-cell analysis; Sperm; Spermatogonia

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