Identification of circular RNAs in porcine sperm and evaluation of their relation to sperm motility

Marta Gòdia, Anna Castelló, Martina Rocco, Betlem Cabrera, Joan Enric Rodríguez-Gil, Sam Balasch, Craig Lewis, Armand Sánchez, Alex Clop*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are emerging as a novel class of noncoding RNAs which potential role as gene regulators is quickly gaining interest. circRNAs have been studied in different tissues and cell types across several animal species. However, a thorough characterization of the circRNAome in ejaculated sperm remains unexplored. In this study, we profiled the sperm circRNA catalogue using 40 porcine ejaculates. A complex population of 1,598 circRNAs was shared in at least 30 of the 40 samples. Generally speaking, the predicted circRNAs presented low abundances and were tissue-specific. Around 80% of the circRNAs identified in the boar sperm were reported as novel. Results from abundance correlation between circRNAs and miRNAs together with the prediction of microRNA (miRNA) target sites in circRNAs suggested that circRNAs may act as miRNA sponges. Moreover, we found significant correlations between the abundance of 148 exonic circRNAs and sperm motility parameters. Two of these correlations, involving ssc_circ_1458 and ssc_circ_1321, were confirmed by RT-qPCR using 36 additional samples with extreme and opposite sperm motility values. Our study provides a thorough characterization of circRNAs in sperm and suggests that circRNAs hold potential as noninvasive biomarkers for sperm quality and male fertility.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7985
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes


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