J Assist Reprod Genet. 2015 May 19. [Epub ahead of print]

PLCζ disruption with complete fertilization failure in normozoospermia.



Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) is widely used to achieve fertilization in the presence of severe male factor, resulting in high fertilization rates. Nevertheless, 1-3 % of couples experience complete fertilization failure after ICSI. When a male factor is identified, assisted oocyte activation (AOA) can help overcome fertilization failures. The objective of this study is to describe a case of repeated complete fertilization failures after ICSI with donor oocytes, and to investigate the molecular and functional aspects of phospholipase C zeta (PLCζ) protein in the patient semen.


The patient was a normozoospermic male who had previously fathered, through natural conception, four children by a different partner. Molecular and functional analysis of sperm-specific PLCζ in the patient and control samples by means of gene sequencing, immunocytochemistry, Western blot, mouse oocyte activation test (MOAT), and mouse oocyte calcium analysis (MOCA) were used.


PLCζ expression levels and distribution were significantly disrupted, although MOAT and MOCA did not indicate a decrease in activation ability.


Normozoospermic males can have disrupted expression and distribution of PLCζ, and reduced activation ability after ICSI in human oocytes, despite their normal activation potential in functional testing using mouse oocytes. Discrepancy among molecular andfunctional data might exist, as mutations in the gene sequence may not be the only cause of alteration in PLCζ protein related to activation failures.

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Year: 2015

Journal: Journal of assisted red reproduction and genetics

PMID: 25986342