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Oligoasthenoteratozoospermic (OAT) men display altered phospholipase C ζ (PLCζ) localization and a lower percentage of sperm cells expressing PLCζ and post-acrosomal sheath WW domain-binding protein (PAWP)

Nahid Azad, Hamid Nazarian, Marefat Ghaffari Novin, Reza Masteri Farahani, Abbas Piryaei, Mohammad Hassan Heidari, Meghdad Abdollahpour Alitappeh


Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia (OAT) is demonstrated to be one of the most common causes of male subfertility. Phospholipase C ζ (PLCζ), a sperm-specific protein, is considered to be one of the sperm-borne oocyte activating factors (SOAFs), which play a vital role in fertilization. The post-acrosomal sheath WW domain-binding protein (PAWP) is another candidate for SOAF. The aim of this study was to compare the PLCζ localization patterns and percentage of PLCζ- and PAWP-positive sperm cells in patients with OAT and fertile men with normozoospermia. A total of 40 men included in this study were classified into two groups: OAT (n = 25) and control group (n = 15). Semen samples were collected and analyzed using conventional semen analysis according to the World Health Organization guidelines. The percentage of PLCζ- and PAWP-positive sperm cells and localization patterns of PLCζ were evaluated using immunofluorescence staining. The mean percentage of sperm cells expressing PAWP and PLCζ was significantly lower in OAT compared to control group (52.8 ± 4.2 vs. 76.8 ± 5 and 63.4 ± 3.5 vs. 86.7 ± 2.1, respectively). In addition, statistically significant differences were found with regard to the PLCζ localization patterns, including equatorial, acrosomal + equatorial, and equatorial + post-acrosomal pattern, between the two groups (p < 0.01). The present study showed a lower percentage of sperm cells expressing PLCζ and PAWP, as well as altered localization patterns of PLCζ in men with OAT. Given the role of PLCζ and PAWP in fertilization, as two major candidates for SOAFs, our findings indicate that PLCζ and PAWP impairments may be one of the possible etiologies of decreased fertility in OAT.


Oligoasthenoteratozoospermia; OAT; phospholipase C ζ; PLCζ; post-acrosomal sheath WW domain-binding protein; PAWP; semen quality; sperm cells

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