Homozygous mutation of PLCZ1 leads to defective human oocyte activation and infertility that is not rescued by the WW-binding protein PAWP

Jessica Escoffier, Hoi Chang Lee, Sandra Yassine, Raoudha Zouari, Guillaume Martinez, Thomas Karaouzène, Charles Coutton, Zine Eddine Kherraf, Lazhar Halouani, Chema Triki, Serge Nef, Nicolas Thierry-Mieg, Sergey N. Savinov, Rafael Fissore, Pierre F. Ray, Christophe Arnoult*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


In mammals, sperm-oocyte fusion initiates Ca2+ oscillations leading to a series of events called oocyte activation, which is the first stage of embryo development. Ca2+ signaling is elicited by the delivery of an oocyte-activating factor by the sperm.A spermspecific phospholipase C (PLCZ1) has emerged as the likely candidate to induce oocyte activation. Recently, PAWP, a sperm-born tryptophan domain-binding protein coded by WBP2NL, was proposed to serve the same purpose. Here, we studied two infertile brothers exhibiting normal sperm morphology but complete fertilization failure after intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Whole exomic sequencing evidenced a missense homozygous mutation in PLCZ1, c.1465A > T; p.Ile489Phe, converting Ile 489 into Phe. We showed the mutation is deleterious, leading to the absence of the protein in sperm, mislocalization of the protein when injected in mouse GV and MII oocytes, highly abnormal Ca2+ transients and early embryonic arrest. Altogether these alterations are consistent with our patients' sperm inability to induce oocyte activation and initiate embryo development. In contrast, no deleterious variants were identified in WBP2NL and PAWP presented normal expression and localization. Overall we demonstrate in humans, the absence of PLCZ1 alone is sufficient to prevent oocyte activation irrespective of the presence of PAWP. Additionally, it is the first mutation located in the C2 domain of PLCZ1, a domain involved in targeting proteins to cell membranes. This opens the door to structure-function studies to identify the conserved amino acids of the C2 domain that regulate the targeting of PLCZ1 and its selectivity for its lipid substrate(s).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)878-891
Number of pages14
JournalHuman molecular genetics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


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