The Male Fertility Gene Atlas


The Male Fertility Gene Atlas (MFGA) is a public platform for providing a fast, simple and straightforward access to OMICS data in the context of male infertility and germ cells. It is developed in the context of the DFG Clinical Research Unit "Male Germ Cells: From Genes to Function" (CRU 326) under the supervision of an interdisciplinary team of physicians, biologists and computer scientists. The MFGA aims to

  1. enable researchers to interpret their OMICS data in the context of relevant published data sets
  2. help reducing the proportion of unexplained cases of male infertility by providing aggregated data for meta-analyses.

All OMICS data about male infertility contained in the MFGA have been manually curated. The data sets are tagged with meta information on the publication, data origin, analysis type, processed tissues and cells, conditions and species of the subjects and important genes. Additionally, annotated images are stored as well as dynamic data tables that can directly be accessed, filtered, sorted and plotted. The structured tagging and annotating enables storing the information in a relational database (MySQL) and thus, very specific filtering operations for information retrieval and aggregation.

The Male Fertility Gene Atlas: a web tool for collecting and integrating OMICS data in the context of male infertility
Publication: DOI: 10.1093/humrep/deaa155
Preprint: DOI: 10.1101/2020.02.10.20021790
Poster: DOI: 10.7490/f1000research.1117544.1

Citing MFGA

The MFGA is a publicly available website. It is intended as a research resource and may not be used for any commercial purposes. If you make use of the MFGA for your research, please cite our tool by the above mentioned publication. Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. If you wish to reuse content from external sources included in the MFGA (e.g. images or tables of publications), please do so in accordance with the license information of the respective external source. All external sources are listed here: Disclaimer.

Available data sets

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Top 20 gene occurrences in distinct data sets

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Clinical research unit Male Germ Cells

Cited from CRU homepage:

2017 - 2020

Male Germ Cells: from Genes to Function - DFG Clinical Research Unit (CRU) 326

Male infertility is a genetically and clinically highly heterogeneous disease. Thus, unravelling the underlying causes and the pathophysiology is challenging and requires an integrated approach. To this end, we set up a Clinical Research Unit (CRU) that investigates in translational projects human male germ cell function from complete germ cell loss to sperm dysfunction at the genetic, epigenetic, and molecular level. In Münster, the setting to study male infertility is unique. On the campus, interdisciplinary expertise on the biology of male germ cells co-locates with major andrological, genetic, and stem cell institutions. Successful bilateral collaborations have already proven the potential for concerted basic, translational, and clinical research. However, to tap the full potential of this environment and to trigger synergies, it is required to intimately interconnect the institutions. Similarly, common animal models such as the zebrafish are still insufficiently used to gain insight into human male germ cell development und function.

To form this CRU, we joined clinical and basic research institutions that primarily study male germ cell function with institutions that primarily focus on stem cells, paediatrics, and powerful animal models. Thus, this CRU consists of the three layers basic science, a network of research projects, and clinical research. These are interconnected by the ‘DNA’, i.e. the concerted research on the epi-/genetics of male germ cells and the professorship of ‘Reproductive Genetics’. This novel position for the designated research coordinator Frank Tüttelmann is a unique feature of a Clinical Research Unit and one cornerstone of this endeavour. It is required to successfully initiate, coordinate, and develop this CRU and, most importantly, to sustain and drive research on male fertility and reproduction as a focus of the Medical Faculty beyond this CRU.

The seven research and one core projects are tightly interlinked and address a unifying hypothesis: A wide spectrum of leading pathologies with the common denominator of male infertility share common epi-/genetic causes. Improving phenotyping by interdisciplinary evaluation of patients, interconnecting basic and clinical research, and linking clinical to genome-wide data will elucidate novel distinct pathologies and their genetic basis.

To achieve the research goals, this CRU breaks current barriers between disciplines as well as basic science and clinical research. It will overcome the classical concept of male infertility as an isolated disease and create an integrated view allowing both forward (gene to patient) and reverse (patient to gene) approaches to identify novel epi-/genetic factors and associated phenotypes that impact germ cell function. This will significantly improve the diagnostic yield in infertile male patients and, ultimately, improve patient care.


Concept of the CRU326 Male Germ Cells: from Genes to Function

To date, infertile men are put into distinct and partially arbitrary categories such as 'oligozoospermia'. In contrast, our vision is to phenotype each patient in depth and identify specific causes of his infertility. This personalised approach will, subsequently, allow for individualised treatment. To achieve this comprehensive view, a number of tools and topics need to be taken into account and are central to this clinical research unit [..].

  • We employ OMICs building on shared availability of data and samples, namely epi-/genetics, (single cell) transcriptomics, and pharmacogenetics.
  • Multidisciplinarity is the keystone to tap the respective expertise and, thus, make it available across institutions and disciplines. A concrete measure is the perpetuation of the multidisciplinary case conferences.
  • Special consultations for 'Unexplained Male Infertility' (CeRA), 'PCD and Infertility' (DGP), and 'Reproductive Genetics' (IHG) within the highly interconnected setting of this clinical research unit have been established and will be sustained.
  • Novel andrological parameters including several non-standard tests (extended hormone profiles, DNA fragmentation index), semi-automated spermmorphology analysis, a CatSper-Activity-Test as well as data and DNA collection of family members will allow deep phenotyping of infertile men.

These measures taken together will significantly increase the rate of causal diagnoses. Thus, main added value of the CRU326 will be the multi-faceted, integrated approach to male infertility creating a sustained impact on research and clinic alike.