Increased N6-methyladenosine causes infertility is associated with FTO expression

J Cell Physiol. 2018 Sep;233(9):7055-7066. doi: 10.1002/jcp.26507. Epub 2018 Mar 25.


The N6-methyladenosine (m6A) modification plays a central role in epigenetic regulation of the mammalian transcriptome. m6A can be demethylated by the fat mass- and obesity-associated (FTO) protein and the α-ketoglutarate-dependent dioxygenase alkB homolog 5 (ALKBH5) protein. Much less is known about that whether m6A content is involved in POI (premature ovarian insufficiency) disease. In this case-controlled study, 69 POI and 53 tubal occlusion patients were recruited from the reproduction centers in our hospital. For the POI animal model experiment, ovarian tissue was obtained from ten POI and nine healthy mice. An m6A test kit was developed to determine the m6A content in the RNA, and qPCR and western blot were used to examine the mRNA and protein expression levels of FTO and ALKBH5. FACS was used to measure the levels of proliferation and apoptosis, and siRNA was used to establish FTO and ALKBH5 knockdown cell lines. Our results showed that the m6A content in the RNA from POI patients and POI mice was significantly higher than control groups and that POI was characterized by the content of m6A. The mRNA and protein expression levels of FTO were significantly lower in the POI patients than control group and were associated with a risk of POI. These data suggest that the decreased mRNA and protein expression levels of FTO may be responsible for the increase in m6A in POI, which may further increase the risk of complications of POI. High m6A should be investigated further as a novel potential biomarker of POI.

Keywords: ALKBH5; FTO; m6A; premature ovarian insufficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Adenosine / metabolism
  • Adult
  • AlkB Homolog 5, RNA Demethylase / metabolism
  • Alpha-Ketoglutarate-Dependent Dioxygenase FTO / genetics*
  • Alpha-Ketoglutarate-Dependent Dioxygenase FTO / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Gene Silencing
  • Granulosa Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Infertility / genetics*
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / genetics


  • Biomarkers
  • N-methyladenosine
  • ALKBH5 protein, human
  • ALKBH5 protein, mouse
  • AlkB Homolog 5, RNA Demethylase
  • FTO protein, mouse
  • Alpha-Ketoglutarate-Dependent Dioxygenase FTO
  • FTO protein, human
  • Adenosine