Meiotic errors in spermatogenesis: the role of recombination and synapsis in male-infertility and the production of aneuploid sperm

About two per cent of men are infertile due to defects in sperm production. In most cases, the underlying cause is unknown. During sperm production, two similar chromosomes – microscopic bodies that carry heredity DNA – pair up and exchange genetic material in a process called meiotic recombination. Recent studies have shown that recombination rates are significantly reduced in infertile men. Infertile men are also more likely to produce sperm with extra or missing chromosomes (called aneuploid sperm). This aneuploid abnormality is the most frequent cause of miscarriage, and among live births, the most common cause of congenital malformations. Kyle Ferguson is using leading edge technology to determine if and how aberrant recombination causes infertility. He is also investigating the recombination patterns that lead to production of aneuploid sperm. This information will help identify genetic mutations that contribute to male infertility, and may lead to new therapies for the condition.