Is there an association between PAWP/WBP2NL sequence, expression, and distribution in sperm cells and fertilization failures in ICSI cycles?

Mol Reprod Dev. 2018 Feb;85(2):163-170. doi: 10.1002/mrd.22950. Epub 2018 Jan 22.


Successful fertilization in mammals depends on the sperm's ability to initiate intracellular Ca2+ oscillations in the egg, a phenomenon that is elicited by Sperm-oocyte activating factors (SOAFs), whose quantitative and/or qualitative defect might result in fertilization failure. One such proposed factor is Post-acrosomal WW domain-binding protein (PAWP/WBP2NL), although its ability to activate human oocytes has been questioned and its implication in human fertilization failure remains unknown. Here, we sought to determine if PAWP/WBP2NL expression and distribution in sperm cells associate with low/complete fertilization failure in males participating in intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) cycles. This prospective study was conducted on eight couples referred for elective ICSI with either the woman's own (n = 4) or a donor eggs (n = 4). Eight sperm donor samples used in ICSI, which resulted in normal fertilization rates, were used as the control group. For each male patient and donor sperm, PAWP/WBP2NL sequence, protein expression, and cellular distribution were analyzed by PCR amplification-sequencing, Western blot, and immunofluorescence, respectively. PAWP/WBP2NL was present in all samples, and no significant differences were detected between patients with fertilization failure and donors in sequence variants or mean protein expression, or in the proportion of PAWP/WBP2NL-positive sperm. In conclusion, no clear association between PAWP/WBP2NL protein expression in sperm and fertilization outcome in ICSI were observed from this cohort.

Keywords: PAWP/WBP2NL; SOAF; egg activation; fertilization failure; idiopathic infertility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Base Sequence
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro*
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetic Association Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Infertility* / genetics
  • Infertility* / metabolism
  • Infertility* / pathology
  • Infertility* / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins / genetics*
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins / metabolism*
  • Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Tissue Donors
  • Treatment Failure
  • Young Adult


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Seminal Plasma Proteins
  • WBP2NL protein, human