Bi-allelic DNAH8 Variants Lead to Multiple Morphological Abnormalities of the Sperm Flagella and Primary Male Infertility.Am J Hum Genet. 2020 08 06; 107(2):330-341.AJ
Sperm malformation is a direct factor for male infertility. Multiple morphological abnormalities of the flagella (MMAF), a severe form of asthenoteratozoospermia, are characterized by immotile spermatozoa with malformed and/or absent flagella in the ejaculate. Previous studies indicated genetic heterogeneity in MMAF. To further define genetic factors underlying MMAF, we performed whole-exome sequencing in a cohort of 90 Chinese MMAF-affected men. Two cases (2.2%) were identified as carrying bi-allelic missense DNAH8 variants, variants which were either absent or rare in the control human population and were predicted to be deleterious by multiple bioinformatic tools. Re-analysis of exome data from a second cohort of 167 MMAF-affected men from France, Iran, and North Africa permitted the identification of an additional male carrying a DNAH8 homozygous frameshift variant. DNAH8 encodes a dynein axonemal heavy-chain component that is expressed preferentially in the testis. Hematoxylin-eosin staining and electron microscopy analyses of the spermatozoa from men harboring bi-allelic DNAH8 variants showed a highly aberrant morphology and ultrastructure of the sperm flagella. Immunofluorescence assays performed on the spermatozoa from men harboring bi-allelic DNAH8 variants revealed the absent or markedly reduced staining of DNAH8 and its associated protein DNAH17. Dnah8-knockout male mice also presented typical MMAF phenotypes and sterility. Interestingly, intracytoplasmic sperm injections using the spermatozoa from Dnah8-knockout male mice resulted in good pregnancy outcomes. Collectively, our experimental observations from humans and mice demonstrate that DNAH8 is essential for sperm flagellar formation and that bi-allelic deleterious DNAH8 variants lead to male infertility with MMAF.