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H M McSwiggin and A M O’Doherty

Infertility is an often devastating diagnosis encountered by around one in six couples who are trying to conceive. Moving away from the long-held belief that infertility is primarily a female issue, it is now recognised that half, if not more, of these cases may be due to male factors. Recent evidence has suggested that epigenetic abnormalities in chromatin dynamics, DNA methylation or sperm-borne RNAs may contribute to male infertility. In light of advances in deep sequencing technologies, researchers have been able to increase the coverage and depth of sequencing results, which in turn has allowed more comprehensive analyses of spermatozoa chromatin dynamics and methylomes and enabled the discovery of new subsets of sperm RNAs. This review examines the most current literature related to epigenetic processes in the male germline and the associations of aberrant modifications with fertility and development.