Bi-allelic mutations of DNAH10 cause primary male infertility with asthenoteratozoospermia in humans and mice

Am J Hum Genet. 2021 Aug 5;108(8):1466-1477. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2021.06.010. Epub 2021 Jul 7.


Multiple morphological abnormalities of the sperm flagella (MMAF)-induced asthenoteratozoospermia is a common cause of male infertility. Previous studies have identified several MMAF-associated genes, highlighting the condition's genetic heterogeneity. To further define the genetic causes underlying MMAF, we performed whole-exome sequencing in a cohort of 643 Chinese MMAF-affected men. Bi-allelic DNAH10 variants were identified in five individuals with MMAF from four unrelated families. These variants were either rare or absent in public population genome databases and were predicted to be deleterious by multiple bioinformatics tools. Morphological and ultrastructural analyses of the spermatozoa obtained from men harboring bi-allelic DNAH10 variants revealed striking flagellar defects with the absence of inner dynein arms (IDAs). DNAH10 encodes an axonemal IDA heavy chain component that is predominantly expressed in the testes. Immunostaining analysis indicated that DNAH10 localized to the entire sperm flagellum of control spermatozoa. In contrast, spermatozoa from the men harboring bi-allelic DNAH10 variants exhibited an absence or markedly reduced staining intensity of DNAH10 and other IDA components, including DNAH2 and DNAH6. Furthermore, the phenotypes were recapitulated in mouse models lacking Dnah10 or expressing a disease-associated variant, confirming the involvement of DNAH10 in human MMAF. Altogether, our findings in humans and mice demonstrate that DNAH10 is essential for sperm flagellar assembly and that deleterious bi-allelic DNAH10 variants can cause male infertility with MMAF. These findings will provide guidance for genetic counseling and insights into the diagnosis of MMAF-associated asthenoteratozoospermia.

Keywords: DNAH10; MMAF; knockout mice; male infertility; sperm flagella.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Asthenozoospermia / complications*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Dyneins / genetics*
  • Exome Sequencing
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / etiology
  • Infertility, Male / metabolism
  • Infertility, Male / pathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mutation*
  • Phenotype*
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism
  • Spermatozoa / pathology*


  • DNAH10 protein, human
  • Dyneins