Ion channel-controlled cell volume regulation is of fundamental significance to the physiological function of sperm. In addition to volume regulation, LRRC8A-dependent volume-regulated anion channel (VRAC) activity is involved in cell cycle progression, insulin signaling, and cisplatin resistance. Nevertheless, the contribution of LRRC8A and its dependent VRAC activity in the germ cell lineage remain unknown. By utilizing a spontaneous Lrrc8a mouse mutation (c.1325delTG, p.F443*) and genetically engineered mouse models, we demonstrate that LRRC8A-dependent VRAC activity is essential for male germ cell development and fertility. Lrrc8a-null male germ cells undergo progressive degeneration independent of the apoptotic pathway during postnatal testicular development. Lrrc8a-deficient mouse sperm exhibit multiple morphological abnormalities of the flagella (MMAF), a feature commonly observed in the sperm of infertile human patients. Importantly, we identified a human patient with a rare LRRC8A hypomorphic mutation (c.1634G>A, p.Arg545His) possibly linked to Sertoli cell–only syndrome (SCOS), a male sterility disorder characterized by the loss of germ cells. Thus, LRRC8A is a critical factor required for germ cell development and volume regulation in the mouse, and it might serve as a novel diagnostic and therapeutic target for SCOS patients.
Jianqiang Bao, Carlos J. Perez, Jeesun Kim, Huan Zhang, Caitlin J. Murphy, Tewfik Hamidi, Jean Jaubert, Craig D. Platt, Janet Chou, Meichun Deng, Meng-Hua Zhou, Yuying Huang, Héctor Gaitán-Peñas, Jean-Louis Guénet, Kevin Lin, Yue Lu, Taiping Chen, Mark T. Bedford, Sharon Y.R. Dent, John H. Richburg, Raúl Estévez, Hui-Lin Pan, Raif S. Geha, Qinghua Shi, Fernando Benavides