Visualizing the origins of selfish de novo mutations in individual seminiferous tubules of human testes
Maher GJ., McGowan SJ., Giannoulatou E., Verrill C., Goriely A., Wilkie AOM.
Significance A major goal in genetics is to understand the processes that shape the frequency of new mutations, particularly those causing human disease. Here, we focus on specific mutations in the male germline that, although initially rare, confer a growth or survival advantage to the stem cell, leading to clonal expansion over time: a process similar to early tumor growth and currently described only in humans. Previous studies supporting this “selfish” selection quantified mutations in sperm or testis pieces using methods that destroyed their cellular origins. Here, we pinpoint and identify pathogenic mutations directly within individual seminiferous tubules, the structures that generate spermatozoa. This methodology provides unprecedented precision in documenting the spectrum and prevalence of selfish mutations in men’s testes.