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This article has been peer reviewed. It is the author’s final published version in Scientific Reports

Volume 6, December 2016, Article number 39318.

The published version is available at DOI: 10.1038/srep39318. Copyright © Qian et al.


Although recent studies have shed insights on some of the potential causes of male infertility, new underlining molecular mechanisms still remain to be elucidated. Makorin-2 (Mkrn2) is an evolutionarily conserved gene whose biological functions are not fully known. We developed an Mrkn2 knockout mouse model to study the role of this gene, and found that deletion of Mkrn2 in mice led to male infertility. Mkrn2 knockout mice produced abnormal sperms characterized by low number, poor motility, and aberrant morphology. Disruption of Mkrn2 also caused failure of sperm release (spermiation failure) and misarrangement of ectoplasmic specialization (ES) in testes, thus impairing spermiogenesis and spermiation. To understand the molecular mechanism, we found that expression of Odf2, a vital protein in spermatogenesis, was significantly decreased. In addition, we found that expression levels of Odf2 were decreased in Mkrn2 knockout mice. We also found that MKRN2 was prominently expressed in the sperm of normal men, but was significantly reduced in infertile men. This result indicates that our finding is clinically relevant. The results of our study provided insights into a new mechanism of male infertility caused by the MKRN2 downregulation.

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