PROBLEM: Restricted expression of H-Y antigen on Y-chromosome-bearing sperm has been reported in some species, although such preferential expression for H-Y antigen in human sperm has yet to be described. In this study, an immunomagnetic approach was used to characterize antigen expression patterns as a function of sex-chromosome content.
METHOD OF STUDY: Human sperm was treated with monoclonal immunoglobulin (Ig) M antibodies directed against H-Y antigen. This preparation then was incubated with sheep antimouse IgM antibody affixed to paramagnetic beads, which then were exposed to a magnetic field and sorted. X- and Y-chromosome frequencies in the two subgroups of sperm were assayed by multiprobe fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH).
RESULTS: Sperm were immunomagnetically separated into two populations: a reactive group (presumably, H-Y Ag+); and a nonreactive group (presumably, H-Y Ag-). Triple-color FISH analysis of 1,600 spermatozoa (800 in each group) showed the antigen's expression to be somewhat more prevalent among Y-chromosome-bearing sperm (54.1%), but a large proportion of Y-chromosome-bearing sperm (49.0%) did not express this antigen. The difference was not significant (P = 0.43).
CONCLUSIONS: The expression of H-Y antigen has a slightly higher frequency in human sperm containing the Y-chromosome, but its expression among X-chromosome-bearing sperm also is considerable. Current immunologic techniques relying on this antigen are unlikely to effect the sex selection of human sperm.