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Guixiang Ji, Lifeng Yan, Wei Liu, Cong Huang, Aihua Gu, and Xinru Wang

The DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) repair pathway plays a critical role in repairing double-strand breaks, and genetic variants in DSBs repair pathway genes are potential risk factors for various diseases. To test the hypothesis that polymorphisms in DSBs genes are associated with susceptibility to male infertility, we examined 11 single nucleotide polymorphisms in eight key DSBs genes (XRCC3, XRCC2, BRCA2, RAG1, XRCC5, LIG4, XRCC4 and ATM) in 580 infertility cases and 580 controls from a Chinese population-based case–control study (NJMU Infertility Study). Genotypes were determined using the OpenArray platform, and sperm DNA fragmentation was detected using the TUNEL assay. The adjusted odds ratio (OR) and 95% CI were estimated using logistic regression. The results indicate that LIG4 rs1805388 (Ex2+54C>T, Thr9Ile) T allele could increase the susceptibility to male infertility (adjusted OR=2.78; 95% CI, 1.77–4.36 for TT genotype; and adjusted OR=1.58; 95% CI, 1.77–4.36 for TC genotype respectively). In addition, the homozygous variant genotype GG of RAG1 rs2227973 (A>G, K820R) was associated with a significantly increased risk of male infertility (adjusted OR, 1.44; 95% CI, 1.01–2.04). Moreover, linear regression analysis revealed that carriers of LIG4 rs1805388 or RAG1 rs2227973 variants had a significantly higher level of sperm DNA fragmentation and that T allele carriers of LIG4 rs1805388 also had a lower level of sperm concentration when compared with common homozygous genotype carriers. This study demonstrates, for the first time, to our knowledge, that functional variants of RAG1 rs2227973 and LIG4 rs1805388 are associated with susceptibility to male infertility.

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Wen-Wen Gu, Long Yang, Xing-Xing Zhen, Yan Gu, Hua Xu, Miao Liu, Qian Yang, Xuan Zhang, and Jian Wang

The invasion of maternal decidua by extravillous trophoblast (EVT) is essential for the establishment and maintenance of pregnancy, and abnormal trophoblast invasion could lead to placenta-associated pathologies including early pregnancy loss and preeclampsia. SEC5, a component of the exocyst complex, plays important roles in cell survival and migration, but its role in early pregnancy has not been reported. Thus, the present study was performed to explore the functions of SEC5 in trophoblast cells. The results showed that SEC5 expression in human placental villi at first trimester was significantly higher than it was at the third trimester, and it was abundantly localized in the cytotrophoblast (CTB) and the trophoblastic column. SEC5 knockdown was accompanied by reduced migration and invasion in HTR-8/SVneo cells. In addition, the expression and plasma membrane distribution of integrin β1 was also decreased. Furthermore, shRNA-mediated knockdown of SEC5 inhibited the outgrowth of first trimester placental explants. SEC5 and InsP3R were colocalized in the cytoplasm of HTR-8/SVneo cells, and the cell-permeant calcium chelator BAPTA-AM could significantly inhibit HTR-8/SVneo cell invasion. The Ca2+ imaging results showed that the 10% fetal bovine serum-stimulated cytosolic calcium concentration ([Ca2+]c) was not only reduced by downregulated SEC5 but also was blocked by the InsP3R inhibitor. Furthermore, either the [Ca2+]c was buffered by BAPTA-AM or the knockdown of SEC5 disrupted HTR-8/SVneo cell F-actin stress fibers and caused cytoskeleton derangement. Taken together, our results suggest that SEC5 might be involved in regulating trophoblast cell migration and invasion through the integrin/Ca2+ signal pathway to induce cytoskeletal rearrangement.

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Yan Xu, Miao Liu, Yi-hua Gu, Xiao-feng Jia, Yong-Mei Chen, Michelle Santos, Ai-Zhen Wu, Xiao-dong Zhang, Hui-Juan Shi, and Ching-Ling C Chen

With tetraspanning topology, members of the membrane-spanning four-domain subfamily A (MS4A) may facilitate signaling or ion channel functions in many tissues. In this study, we report the cloning of a full-length cDNA from rat testis, designated Ms4a14 (Sp3111), which encodes the MS4A protein with 1139 amino acid residues. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analyses indicate that Ms4a14 is predominantly expressed from round spermatids to spermatozoa at specific stages in the rat testis at both the mRNA and protein level. Immunofluorescence analysis revealed that MS4A14 (SP3111) is located in the acrosome and the midpiece of the flagellum in mature sperm. Previously, we explored and reported the involvement of MS4A14 in reproductive functions, using antibody blockage during IVF and a transgenic RNA interference method in a mouse model. Our results suggested that MS4A14 is involved in fertilization and zygote division. As MS4A14 protein exists in mammals, such as humans, cows, dogs, and rodents, MS4A14 may play a ubiquitous role in mammalian reproduction.

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Nan Meng, Xinyue Wang, Yan Shi, Yanyan Mao, Qian Yang, Baohui Ju, Qianxi Zhu, Tingting Zhang, Yan Gu, and Xuan Zhang

Decidualization is essential for the successful establishment of pregnancy, and the dysregulated decidualization may lead to early pregnancy loss. It was previously reported by us that miR-3074-5p could promote apoptosis but inhibit invasion of human extravillous trophoblast (EVT) cells in vitro, and the expression level of miR-3074-5p in villus tissues of recurrent miscarriage (RM) patients was significantly increased. The aim of this study was to preliminarily explore the role of miR-3074-5p played in the decidualization of human endometrial stromal cells (ESCs). It was found that the decidual expression level of miR-3074-5p in RM patients was remarkably higher than that in the control group. The overexpression of miR-3074-5p in the immortalized human ESC line, T-HESCs, showed suppressive effects not only on the cell proliferation, as well as the intracellular expression levels of cyclin B1 (CCNB1), CCND1 and CCNE1 but also on the in vitro-induced decidualization. CLN8 mRNA, encoding an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-associated membrane protein, was validated to be directly targeted by miR-3074-5p. And, the expression level of CLN8 was continuously increased along with the decidualization process, whereas down-regulated CLN8 expression could inhibit the decidualization of T-HESCs in vitro. Furthermore, contrary to the increased expression level of miR-3074-5p, a significantly decreased CLN8 expression was observed in decidual tissues of RM patients. Collectively, these data suggested that an increased miR-3074-5p expression in ESCs might cause early pregnancy failure by disturbing decidualization of ESCs via the miR-3074-5p/CLN8 pathway, providing a potential diagnostic and therapeutic target for RM.