Research Papers:

Copy number gain of VCX, X-linked multi-copy gene, leads to cell proliferation and apoptosis during spermatogenesis

Juan Ji, Yufeng Qin, Rong Wang, Zhenyao Huang, Yan Zhang, Ran Zhou, Ling Song, Xiufeng Ling, Zhibin Hu, Dengshun Miao, Hongbing Shen, Yankai Xia, Xinru Wang and Chuncheng Lu _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:78532-78540. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.12397

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Juan Ji1,2,4,*, Yufeng Qin3,*, Rong Wang5,*, Zhenyao Huang1,2, Yan Zhang1,2, Ran Zhou1,2, Ling Song1,2, Xiufeng Ling4, Zhibin Hu1,6, Dengshun Miao1,5, Hongbing Shen1,6, Yankai Xia1,2, Xinru Wang1,2, Chuncheng Lu1,2

1State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Medicine, Institute of Toxicology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China

2Key Laboratory of Modern Toxicology of Ministry of Education, School of Public Health, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China

3Epigenetics and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA

4Department of Children Health Care, Nanjing Maternity and Child Health Care Hospital Affiliated to Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China

5Research Center for Bone and Stem Cells, Department of Anatomy, Histology, and Embryology, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China

6Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Key Laboratory of Modern Toxicology of Ministry of Education, School of Public Health, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work and joint first authors

Correspondence to:

Chuncheng Lu, email: chunchenglu@njmu.edu.cn

Keywords: copy number variations, non-obstructive azoospermia

Received: April 08, 2016     Accepted: September 25, 2016     Published: October 01, 2016


Male factor infertility affects one-sixth of couples worldwide, and non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA) is one of the most severe forms. In recent years there has been increasing evidence to implicate the participation of X chromosome in the process of spermatogenesis. To uncover the roles of X-linked multi-copy genes in spermatogenesis, we performed systematic analysis of X-linked gene copy number variations (CNVs) and Y chromosome haplogrouping in 447 idiopathic NOA patients and 485 healthy controls. Interestingly, the frequency of individuals with abnormal level copy of Variable charge, X-linked (VCX) was significantly different between cases and controls after multiple test correction (p = 5.10 × 10−5). To discriminate the effect of gain/loss copies in these genes, we analyzed the frequency of X-linked multi-copy genes in subjects among subdivided groups. Our results demonstrated that individuals with increased copy numbers of Nuclear RNA export factor 2 (NXF2) (p = 9.21 × 10−8) and VCX (p = 1.97 × 10−4) conferred the risk of NOA. In vitro analysis demonstrated that increasing copy number of VCX could upregulate the gene expression and regulate cell proliferation and apoptosis. Our study establishes a robust association between the VCX CNVs and NOA risk.

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