CCDC65, encoding a component of the axonemal Nexin-Dynein regulatory complex, is required for sperm flagellum structure in humans

Fadwa Jreijiri, Emma Cavarocchi, Amir Amiri-Yekta, Caroline Cazin, Seyedeh-Hanieh Hosseini, Elma El Khouri, Catherine Patrat, Nicolas Thierry-Mieg, Pierre F Ray, Emmanuel Dulioust, Marjorie Whitfield, Aminata Touré


Sperm flagella share an evolutionary conserved microtubule-based structure with motile cilia expressed at the surface of several cell types, such as the airways epithelial cells. As a result, male infertility can be observed as an isolated condition or a syndromic trait, illustrated by Primary Cilia Dyskinesia (PCD). We report two unrelated patients showing multiple morphological abnormalities of the sperm flagella (MMAF) and carrying distinct homozygous truncating variants in the PCD-associated gene CCDC65. We characterized one of the identified variants (c.1208del; p.Asn403Ilefs*9), which induces the near absence of CCDC65 protein in patient sperm. In Chlamydomonas, CCDC65 ortholog (DRC2, FAP250) is a component of the Nexin-Dynein Regulatory complex (N-DRC), which interconnects microtubule doublets and coordinates dynein arms activity. In sperm cells from the patient, we also show the loss of GAS8, another component of the N-DRC, supporting a structural/functional link between the two proteins. Our work indicates that, similarly to ciliary axoneme, CCDC65 is required for sperm flagellum structure. Importantly, our work provides first evidence that mutations in the PCD-associated gene CCDC65 also cause asthenozoospermia.