Mutations in the protamine locus: association with spermatogenic failure?

Mol Hum Reprod. 2009 Nov;15(11):733-8. doi: 10.1093/molehr/gap056. Epub 2009 Jul 14.


The protamine locus consists of a 28.5 kb region with a linear array of the protamine (PRM)1, PRM2, PRM3 and transition nuclear protein (TNP)2 genes. Several studies indicate an abnormal expression pattern of protamine genes associated with male infertility, although the molecular mechanism underlying this observation is unclear. Here, we determined the spectrum of DNA variants present in all four genes in men with unexplained infertility compared with an ancestry-matched fertile/normospermic population. A total of 160 control individuals and at least 125 infertile men with either idiopathic azoospermia or oligozoospermia were sequenced for the open reading frame of PRM1, PRM2, PRM3 and TNP2 genes. All individuals carried an apparently intact Y chromosome. Of the 28 variants identified, 21 were previously described in the literature. The novel variants that were observed only in the infertile cohort included the SNP c.65G>A mutation which resulted in an amino acid change at the codon 22 (p.Ser22Asn) in the PRM1 gene, a mutation in the promoter region of PRM2 (-67C>T) and a nonsense mutation in the PRM3 gene. These data are consistent with that of previous studies which have indicated that mutations in the protamine locus may be an infrequent cause of male infertility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / genetics*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / genetics
  • Male
  • Protamines / genetics*
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics*


  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • PRM1 protein, human
  • Protamines
  • protamine 2
  • spermatid transition proteins