Genetically determined asynapsis, spermatogenic degeneration, and infertility in men

Am J Hum Genet. 1980 Nov;32(6):833-48.


We report a family in which azoospermia and infertility affected two sibs whose parents were first cousins once removed. Meiotic cells of the proband, who had the chromosomal complement of a normal male (46,XY), exhibited asynapsis, defective synaptonemal complex (SC) formation, chiasma failure, and degeneration of prophase spermatocytes with asynapsis. Based on these observations, we suggest that the meiotic abnormalities and infertility in this family comprise a trait with an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. Review of published cases of infertile men with normal chromosomal complements and disturbed meiosis suggests that genetically determined asynapsis and desynapsis similar to that established in plant and insect species also occur in humans. In humans, asynapsis appears to be inherited as an autosomal recessive. The mode of inheritance of desynapsis is not clear; X-linked recessive or autosomal dominant has been suggested in one family. Studies by us and by others reported in the literature suggest that the mode of action of genes that affect synapsis and cause a reduction in the numbers of visible chiasmata at diakinesis is dissimilar to that of the action of genes that cause defective meiotic recombination, defective repair of induced damage to DNA in somatic cells, and chromosome instability.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Consanguinity
  • Genes, Recessive
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Male / genetics*
  • Interphase
  • Male
  • Meiosis
  • Oligospermia / genetics*
  • Pedigree
  • Seminiferous Tubules / pathology
  • Spermatogenesis*