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Male infertility affects ~7% of men in Western societies, but its causes remain poorly understood. The most clinically severe form of male infertility is non-obstructive azoospermia (NOA), which is, in part, caused by an arrest at meiosis, but so far only few genes have been reported to cause germ cell arrest in males. To address this gap, whole exome sequencing was performed in 60 German men with bilateral complete meiotic arrest, and we identified in three unrelated men the same homozygous frameshift variant c.676dup (p.Trp226LeufsTer4) in M1AP, encoding meiosis 1 arresting protein. Then, with collaborators from the International Male Infertility Genomics Consortium (IMIGC), we screened a Dutch cohort comprising 99 infertile men and detected the same homozygous variant c.676dup in a man with hypospermatogenesis predominantly displaying meiotic arrest. We also identified two Portuguese men with NOA carrying likely biallelic loss-of-function (LoF) and missense variants in M1AP among men screened by the Genetics of Male Infertility Initiative (GEMINI). Moreover, we discovered a homozygous missense variant p.(Pro389Leu) in M1AP in a consanguineous Turkish family comprising five infertile men. M1AP is predominantly expressed in human and mouse spermatogonia up to secondary spermatocytes and previous studies have shown that knockout male mice are infertile due to meiotic arrest. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that both LoF and missense M1AP variants that impair its protein cause autosomal-recessive meiotic arrest, non-obstructive azoospermia and male infertility. In view of the evidence from several independent groups and populations, M1AP should be included in the growing list of validated NOA genes.

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