MORC1 represses transposable elements in the mouse male germline

Nat Commun. 2014 Dec 12:5:5795. doi: 10.1038/ncomms6795.


The Microrchidia (Morc) family of GHKL ATPases are present in a wide variety of prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms but are of largely unknown function. Genetic screens in Arabidopsis thaliana have identified Morc genes as important repressors of transposons and other DNA-methylated and silent genes. MORC1-deficient mice were previously found to display male-specific germ cell loss and infertility. Here we show that MORC1 is responsible for transposon repression in the male germline in a pattern that is similar to that observed for germ cells deficient for the DNA methyltransferase homologue DNMT3L. Morc1 mutants show highly localized defects in the establishment of DNA methylation at specific classes of transposons, and this is associated with failed transposon silencing at these sites. Our results identify MORC1 as an important new regulator of the epigenetic landscape of male germ cells during the period of global de novo methylation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / genetics
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • DNA Methylation
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Embryo, Mammalian
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Nuclear Proteins / genetics*
  • Nuclear Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Spermatozoa / cytology
  • Spermatozoa / growth & development
  • Spermatozoa / metabolism*
  • Time Factors


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Morc1 protein, mouse
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Dnmt3l protein, mouse
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE63048