A new AURKC mutation causing macrozoospermia: implications for human spermatogenesis and clinical diagnosis

Mol Hum Reprod. 2011 Dec;17(12):762-8. doi: 10.1093/molehr/gar050. Epub 2011 Jul 6.


The presence of close to 100% large-headed multi-tailed spermatozoa in the ejaculate has been described as a rare phenotype of male infertility with a very poor prognosis. We demonstrated previously that most cases were caused by a homozygous mutation (c.144delC) in the Aurora Kinase C gene (AURKC) leading to the absence or the production of a non-functional protein. AURKC deficiency in these patients blocked meiosis and resulted in the production of tetraploid spermatozoa unsuitable for fertilization. We describe here the study of two brothers presenting with large-headed spermatozoa. Molecular analysis of the AURKC gene was carried out in two brothers presenting with a typical large-headed spermatozoa phenotype. Both affected brothers were heterozygous for the c.144delC mutation. After complete sequencing of the gene a new heterozygous variant, c.436-2A>G, was identified in both patients. This mutation is located in the acceptor consensus splice site of exon 5. AURKC transcripts were extracted from one of the patient's leukocytes and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction could be realized showing the presence of a truncated transcript indicating that c.436-2A>G leads to the skipping of exon 5. These results indicate that AURKC molecular analysis of patients with large-headed spermatozoa should not be stopped in the absence of a homozygous recurrent mutation on exon 3 but complete sequence analysis should be performed. This diagnosis is important as the identification of AURKC mutations in patients indicates that all spermatozoa will be chromosomally abnormal and that ICSI should not be attempted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aurora Kinase C
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Exons
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male* / diagnosis
  • Infertility, Male* / genetics
  • Male
  • Meiosis / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation*
  • Pedigree
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics*
  • Siblings
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Spermatozoa / pathology
  • Tunisia


  • AURKC protein, human
  • Aurora Kinase C
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases