• reproductive hyaluronidases;
  • transmission ratio distortion;
  • Spam1;
  • gene mutations


Earlier we showed that Sperm adhesion molecule1 (Spam1), the best studied sperm hyaluronidase, is involved in the sperm dysfunction associated with Robertsonian translocations (Rb). The dysfunction results in reduced fertility in mice homozygous for the Rb(6.16) or the Rb(6.15) translocation and transmission ratio distortion (TRD) in heterozygous males. This conclusion was based on the finding that Spam1 in the Rbs harbors multiple point mutations and a genomic alteration at the locus [in the case of Rb(6.16)]; and is accompanied by reduced steady-state levels of the RNA and protein. Here we show that closely linked family members in the hyaluronidase gene cluster on mouse chromosome 6, Hyalp1 and Hyal5, also harbor point mutations in these Rbs, leading to nonconservative substitutions in both the encoded proteins. To test if Spam1 by itself is capable of producing TRD we analyzed the transmission of wild-type and null alleles of the gene in the progeny of carriers and show that there is no significant TRD. This lack of TRD in null carriers argues for only a contributory role of Spam1 in the TRD seen in the Rb-bearing mice, and supports the involvement of Hyalp1 and/or Hyal5 in the sperm dysfunction and the resulting TRD. It is proposed that the clustering of point mutations in all three genes results from the cumulative effect of spontaneous mutations that do not disperse in the population due to suppression of recombination that occurs at Rb junctions. Mol. Reprod. Dev. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.