Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 18547511
J. Soc. Biol. 2008;202(2):135-41
The human Y chromosome contains a number of genes and gene families that are essential for germ cell development and maintenance. Many of these genes are located in highly repetitive elements that are subject to rearrangements. Deletion of azoospermia factor (AZF) regions AZFa, AZFb, and AZFc are found in approximately 10-15% of men with severe forms of spermatogenic failure. Several partial AZFc deletions have been described. One of these, which removes around half of all the genes within the AZFc region, appears to be present as an inconsequential polymorphism in populations of northern Eurasia. A second deletion, termed gr/gr, also results in the absence of several AZFc genes and it may be a genetic risk factor for spermatogenic failure. However, the link between these partial deletions and fertility is unclear. The gr/gr deletion is not a single deletion but a combination of deletions that vary in size and complexity and result in the absence of different genes. There are also regional or ethnic differences in the frequency of gr/gr deletions. In some Y-chromosome lineages, these deletions appear to be fixed and may have little influence on spermatogenesis. Most of these data (gene content and Y chromosome structure) have been deduced from the reference Y chromosome sequence deposited in NCBI. However, recently there have been attempts to define these types of structural rearrangements in the general population. These have highlighted the considerable degree of structural diversity that exist. Trying to correlate these changes with the phenotypic variability is a major challenge and it is likely that there will not be a single reference (or normal) Y chromosome sequence but many.