Exome Sequencing Reveals the POLR3H Gene as a Novel Cause of Primary Ovarian Insufficiency

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Jul 1;104(7):2827-2841. doi: 10.1210/jc.2018-02485.


Context: Primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) is a cause of female infertility. However, the genetic etiology of this disorder remains unknown in most patients with POI.

Objective: To investigate the genetic etiology of idiopathic POI.

Patients and methods: We performed whole-exome sequencing of 11 families with idiopathic POI. To gain insights into the potential mechanisms associated with this mutation, we generated two mouse lines via clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats/Cas9 technology.

Results: A pathogenic homozygous missense mutation (c.149A>G; p.Asp50Gly) in the POLR3H gene in two unrelated families was identified. Pathogenic mutations in this subunit have not been associated with human disorders. Loss-of-function Polr3h mutation in mice caused early embryonic lethality. Mice with homozygous point mutation (Polr3hD50G) were viable but showed delayed pubertal development, characterized by late first estrus or preputial separation. The Polr3hD50G female and male mice showed decreased fertility later in life, associated with small litter size and increased time to pregnancy or to impregnate a female. Polr3hD50G mice displayed decreased expression of ovarian Foxo3a and lower numbers of primary follicles.

Conclusion: Our manuscript provides a case of POI caused by missense mutation in POLR3H, expanding the knowledge of molecular pathways of the ovarian function and human infertility. Screening of the POLR3H gene may elucidate POI cases without previously identified genetic causes, supporting approaches of genetic counseling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems
  • Child
  • Female
  • Forkhead Box Protein O3 / metabolism
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Heterozygote
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Infertility / genetics
  • Litter Size
  • Loss of Function Mutation
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Ovary / metabolism
  • Primary Ovarian Insufficiency / genetics*
  • RNA Polymerase III / genetics*
  • Sexual Maturation / genetics
  • Time-to-Pregnancy
  • Whole Exome Sequencing


  • Forkhead Box Protein O3
  • FoxO3 protein, mouse
  • POLR3H protein, human
  • Polr3h protein, mouse
  • RNA Polymerase III