Pseudoautosomal abnormalities in terminal AZFb+c deletions are associated with isochromosomes Yp and may lead to abnormal growth and neuropsychiatric function

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Abstract

STUDY QUESTION

Are copy number variations (CNVs) in the pseudoautosomal regions (PARs) frequent in subjects with Y-chromosome microdeletions and can they lead to abnormal stature and/or neuropsychiatric disorders?

SUMMARY ANSWER

Only subjects diagnosed with azoospermia factor (AZF)b+c deletions spanning to the end of the Y chromosome (i.e. terminal deletions) harbor Y isochromosomes and/or cells 45,X that lead to pseudoautosomal gene CNVs, which were associated with abnormal stature and/or neuropsychiatric disorders.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY

The microdeletions in the long arm of the Y chromosome (Yq) that include the loss of one to three AZF regions, referred to as Yq microdeletions, constitute the most important known etiological factor for primary spermatogenic failure. Recently, controversy has arisen about whether Yq microdeletions are associated with gain or loss of PAR genes, which are implicated in skeletal development and neuropsychiatric function.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION

We studied a cohort of 42 Chilean patients with complete AZF deletions (4 AZFa, 4 AZFb, 23 AZFc, 11 AZFb+c) from a university medical center, diagnosed over a period of 15 years. The subjects underwent complete medical examinations with special attention to their stature and neuropsychiatric function.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS

All subjects were characterized for Yq breakpoints by PCR, and for CNVs in PARs by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA), followed by qPCR analysis for genes in PAR1 (SHOX and ZBED1), PAR2 (IL9R) and two single copy genes (SRY and DDX3Y, respectively located in Yp11.3 and AZFa). In addition, karyotypes revision and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) for SRY and centromeric probes for X (DXZ1) and Y (DYZ3) chromosomes were performed in males affected with CNVs.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

We did not detect CNVs in any of the 35 AZF-deleted men with interstitial deletions (AZFa, AZFb, AZFc or AZFb+c). However, six of the seven patients with terminal AZFb+c deletions showed CNVs: two patients showed a loss and four patients showed a gain of PAR1 genes, with the expected loss of VAMP-7 in PAR2. In these patients, the Yq breakpoints localized to the palindromes P8, P5 or P4. In the four cases with gain of PAR1, qPCR analysis showed duplicated signals for SRY and DDX3Y and one copy of IL9R, indicating isodicentric Yp chromosomes [idic(Y)] with breakpoint in Yq11.22. The two patients who had loss of PAR1, as shown by MLPA, had an additional reduction for SRY and DDX3Y, as shown by qPCR, associated with a high proportion of 45,X cells, as determined by FISH and karyotype. In agreement with the karyotype analysis, we detected DYZ3++ and DYZ3+ cells by FISH in the six patients, confirming idic(Y) and revealing additional monocentric Y chromosome [i(Y)]. Five patients had a history of major depressive disorders or bipolar disorder, and three had language impairment, whereas two patients showed severe short stature (Z score: −2.75 and −2.62), while a man with bipolar disorder was very tall (Z score: +2.56).

LARGE SCALE DATA

N/A.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION

The number of males studied with Y-chromosome microdeletions and normozoospermic controls with normal karyotypes may not be enough to rule out an association between AZF deletions and PAR abnormalities. The prevalence of Y isochromosomes and/or 45,X cells detected in peripheral blood does not necessarily reflect the variations of PAR genes in target tissues.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

This study shows that CNVs in PARs were present exclusively in patients with terminal AZFb+c deletions associated with the presence of Y isochromosomes and 45,X cells, and may lead to neuropsychiatric and growth disorders. In contrast, we show that men with interstitial Yq microdeletions with normal karyotypes do not have an increased risk of PAR abnormalities and of phenotypical consequences. Moreover, our results highlight the importance of performing molecular studies, which are not considered in the usual screening for patients with Yq microdeletions.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)

This work was supported by the National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development of Chile (FONDECYT), grant no. 1120176 (A.C.). The authors declare that no conflicting interests exist.

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