Novel epigenomic biomarkers of male infertility identified by methylation patterns of CpG sites within imprinting control regions of H19 and SNRPN genes
Mary Ann Liebert Inc.
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Male infertility is an important global health burden that can benefit from novel biomarkers and diagnostics innovation. Aberrant methylation of the imprinted genes H19 and SNRPN (small nuclear ribonucleoprotein polypeptide N) in sperm DNA has been implicated in abnormal sperm parameters and male infertility. However, whether certain methylation patterns of one or multiple CpG sites within an imprinted gene are pathological for multiple sperm defects remains poorly understood. To examine the diagnostic potential of certain methylation patterns of CpG sites for multiphenotype defects in human sperm, the sperm DNA methylation patterns of individual CpG sites within imprinting control regions (ICRs) of imprinted genes H19 and SNRPN were measured by bisulfite pyrosequencing in a Han Chinese population sample: 39 oligoasthenozoospermia (OA) patients, 36 asthenoteratozoospermia (AT) patients, and 50 normozoospermia (N) controls. A partial least squares discriminant analysis model was built with the CpG sites as independent variables. Among the 16 CpG sites screened, the methylation patterns of eight CpG sites within H19-ICR (CpG sites 1, 6–9, 12 and 15–16), and eight CpG sites within SNRPN-ICR (CpG sites 2, 5–6, 8–10, 13, and 16) correctly classified 74.4% and 72.0% of the samples in terms of male fertile status, respectively. Furthermore, by combination of these 16 selected CpG sites within ICRs of H19 and SNRPN, 88.0% of the samples could be successfully classified. Our study demonstrates that methylation profiles of CpG sites within ICRs of imprinted genes H19 and SNRPN may potentially serve as epigenomic biomarkers for assessment of infertility in men with multiple sperm defects. Further studies in independent population samples are called for diagnostic significance of methylation patterns of CpG sites within imprinted genes.