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Subfertility - Impaired Acrosomal Reaction

Impaired Acrosome Reaction (IAR)


Gene or region: FKBP6

Reference allele: G (IAR1), C (IAR2)

Mutant allele: A (IAR1+IAR2)

Affected Breeds: Thoroughbred


Research Confidence:                              Preliminary, initial study had low number of horses


What it does: 


In normal fertilization, the the head of a sperm binds to the egg and releases the contents of a structure known as the acrosome. However, some males have otherwise normal sperm that are unable to properly carry out this process, leading to sub- or infertility due to impaired acrosome reaction. Very little is known about the genetics of male fertility. One study of 7 horses with known IAR, 87 known fertile stallions, and 171 male horses of unknown fertility status found an association with two SNPs in the FKBP6 gene.  All 7 case stallions had genotype A/A for both, as compared to only 2 known fertile stallions and 3 unknown fertility males. The authors noted that fertility was defined as having at least one foal, though even males with IAR can rarely produce offspring.


FKBP6 is a binding protein involved in replication of sperm and possibly fertilization. Though not much is known of its specific actions, mouse and rat mutants are unable to produce sperm, and human variants have been associated with impairments in sperm production. This gene is only expressed in males, and expression has only been detected in testis and ejaculate. The two mutations (IAR1, IAR2) do not appear to alter the structure of FKBP6, though they may play a role in its regulation. 




Raudsepp T et al., “Genome-wide association study implicates testis-sperm specific FKBP6 as a susceptibility locus for impaired acrosome reaction in stallions.” (2012) PLoS Genet. 8: e1003139. PMID: 23284302

EZ Guide:  What do my test results mean?     IAR/Subfertility Test Key

If      -/-, -/+   One    IAR Subfertility allele detected - NO KNOWN EFFECT

If      -/+, -/+  Two    IAR Subfertiliy alleles detected - NO KNOWN EFFECT

If      +/+, +/- Three IAR Subfertility alleles detected - NO KNOWN EFFECT

If      +/+, +/+ Four  IAR Subfertility alleles detected - MAY BE AFFECTED

                                                                                                     (MALES/STALLIONS ONLY)


What about the graph of the alleles on my report?

*This study/allele set has only been conducted in Thoroughbred horses, the effects are yet unknown in other breeds.  If you suspect your horse/stallion has fertility issues (validated by veterinarian or the inability to settle multiple mares) please contact us and participate in the ongoing research project.

NOT Affected
NOT Affected
NOT Affected
Possibly Affected

As Impaired Acrosomal Reaction is thought to be "multi-allelic" (meaning it involves multiple alleles or genomic sites as opposed to just one), only male horses with the IAR mutation in all four alleles, in both regions, are thought to be possibly affected.  Simply put: to be at risk, your graph will appear with two completely red bars indicating homozygosity in both regions for the IAR risk allele.

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