Single-cell multi-omics sequencing of human spermatogenesis reveals a DNA demethylation event associated with male meiotic recombination

Nat Cell Biol. 2023 Oct;25(10):1520-1534. doi: 10.1038/s41556-023-01232-7. Epub 2023 Sep 18.


Human spermatogenesis is a highly ordered process; however, the roles of DNA methylation and chromatin accessibility in this process remain largely unknown. Here by simultaneously investigating the chromatin accessibility, DNA methylome and transcriptome landscapes using the modified single-cell chromatin overall omic-scale landscape sequencing approach, we revealed that the transcriptional changes throughout human spermatogenesis were correlated with chromatin accessibility changes. In particular, we identified a set of transcription factors and cis elements with potential functions. A round of DNA demethylation was uncovered upon meiosis initiation in human spermatogenesis, which was associated with male meiotic recombination and conserved between human and mouse. Aberrant DNA hypermethylation could be detected in leptotene spermatocytes of certain nonobstructive azoospermia patients. Functionally, the intervention of DNA demethylation affected male meiotic recombination and fertility. Our work provides multi-omics landscapes of human spermatogenesis at single-cell resolution and offers insights into the association between DNA demethylation and male meiotic recombination.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatin / genetics
  • DNA Demethylation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meiosis / genetics
  • Mice
  • Multiomics*
  • Spermatogenesis / genetics


  • Chromatin