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Association of a novel human mtDNA ATPase6 mutation with immature sperm cells


Dr. F. Y. T. Sin Department of Zoology, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand.


This study reports the first clearly defined heteroplasmic mutation in immature human sperm cells. The human sperm mitochondrial genome from residue 8186–9341 was analysed with the aim of identifying point mutations which may be associated with human male infertility. The semen samples analysed were obtained from 88 fertile men, 19 with oligozoospermia, and 12 with severe oligozoospermia. Using single strand conformation polymorphism analysis a heteroplasmic T to C transition was detected in the ATPase6 gene, at nucleotide position 8821, in semen samples from one out of 12 (8%) severely oligozoospermic men, but not in oligozoospermic men or normospermic men. This mutation changed the amino acid serine to proline at residue 99 of the mitochondrial ATPase6 in a region which is highly conserved in other vertebrates including rat, bovine, chicken, salmonids and Xenopus. The mutation was detected in semen samples collected from the same man 9 months apart and in peripheral blood lymphocytes. Single sperm cell analyses did not find this mutation in the mature sperm, but the mutation was detected in 7% of immature spermatids. Our finding suggests that immature spermatids with this mutation fail to develop fully.