Trends Genet. 2021 Jun 19:S0168-9525(21)00139-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2021.05.007. Online ahead of print.
While sperm mosaicism has few consequences for men, the offspring and future generations are unwitting recipients of gonadal cell mutations, often yielding severe disease. Recent studies, fueled by emergent technologies, show that sperm mosaicism is a common source of de novo mutations (DNMs) that underlie severe pediatric disease as well as human genetic diversity. Sperm mosaicism can be divided into three types: Type I arises during sperm meiosis and is non-age dependent; Type II arises in spermatogonia and increases as men age; and Type III arises during paternal embryogenesis, spreads throughout the body, and contributes stably to sperm throughout life. Where Types I and II confer little risk of recurrence, Type III may confer identifiable risk to future offspring. These mutations are likely to be the single largest contributor to human genetic diversity. New sequencing approaches may leverage this framework to evaluate and reduce disease risk for future generations.