Y-chromosome microdeletions are not associated with SHOX haploinsufficiency

C. Chianese, D. Lo Giacco, F. Tüttelmann, A. Ferlin, P. Ntostis, S. Vinci, G. Balercia, E. Ars, E. Ruiz-Castañé, S. Giglio, G. Forti, S. Kliesch, C. Krausz

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    STUDY QUESTIONAre Y-chromosome microdeletions associated with SHOX haploinsufficiency, thus representing a risk of skeletal anomalies for the carriers and their male descendents'SUMMARY ANSWERThe present study shows that SHOX haploinsufficiency is unlikely to be associated with Y-chromosome microdeletions.WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADYY-chromosome microdeletions are not commonly known as a major molecular genetic cause of any pathological condition except spermatogenic failure. However, it has been recently proposed that they are associated not only with infertility but also with anomalies in the pseudoautosomal regions (PAR), among which SHOX haploinsufficiency stands out with a frequency of 5.4% in microdeletion carriers bearing a normal karyotype. This finding implies that sons fathered by men with Y-chromosome defects will not only exhibit fertility problems, but might also suffer from SHOX-related conditions.STUDY DESIGNFive European laboratories (Florence, Münster, Barcelona, Padova and Ancona), routinely performing Y-chromosome microdeletion screening, were enrolled in a multicenter study.PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODSPAR-linked and SHOX copy number variations (CNVs) were analyzed in 224 patients carrying Y-chromosome microdeletions and 112 controls with an intact Y chromosome, using customized X-chromosome-specific array-CGH platforms and/or qPCR assays for SHOX and SRY genes.MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCEOur data show that 220 out of 224 (98.2%) microdeletion carriers had a normal SHOX copy number, as did all the controls. No SHOX deletions were found in any of the examined subjects (patients as well as controls), thus excluding an association with SHOX haploinsufficiency. SHOX duplications were detected in 1.78% of patients (n = 4), of whom two had an abnormal and two a normal karyotype. This might suggest that Y-chromosome microdeletions have a higher incidence for SHOX duplications, irrespective of the patient's karyotype. However, the only clinical condition observed in our four SHOX-duplicated patients was infertility.LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTIONThe number of controls analyzed is rather low to assess whether the SHOX duplications found in the two men with Y-chromosome microdeletions and a normal karyotype represent a neutral polymorphism or are actually associated with the presence of the microdeletion.WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGSMen suffering from infertility due to the presence of Y-chromosome microdeletions can resort to artificial reproductive technology (ART) to father their biological children. However, infertile couples must be aware of the risks implied and this makes genetic counseling a crucial step in the patient's management. This study does not confirm previous alarming data that showed an association between Y-chromosome microdeletions and SHOX haploinsufficiency. Our results imply that deletion carriers have no augmented risk of SHOX-related pathologies (short stature and skeletal anomalies) and indicate that there is no need for radical changes in genetic counseling of Yq microdeletion carriers attempting ART, since the only risk established so far for their male offspring remains impaired spermatogenesis.STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)This work was supported by the Italian Ministry of University (grant PRIN 2010-2012 to C.K.), Tuscan Regional Health Research Program ('Progetto Salute 2009') to G.F., the Spanish Ministry of Health (grant FIS-11/02254) and the European Union 'Reprotrain' Marie Curie Network (project number: 289880 to C.K.). The authors declare that no conflicting interests exist. © 2013 © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3155-3160
    JournalHuman Reproduction
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


    • gr/gr deletion
    • male infertility
    • SHOX
    • spermatogenesis
    • Y chromosome


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