The number and quality of oocytes within the ovarian reserve largely determines fertility and reproductive lifespan in mammals. An oocyte-specific transcription factor cascade controls oocyte development, and some of these transcription factors, such as newborn ovary homeobox gene (NOBOX), are candidate genes for primary ovarian insufficiency in women. Transcription factors are frequently modified by the post-translational modification SUMOylation, but it is not known whether SUMOylation is required for function of the oocyte-specific transcription factors or if SUMOylation is required in oocytes during their development within the ovarian follicle. To test this, the sole E2 SUMO-conjugating enzyme, Ube2i, was ablated in mouse oocytes beginning in primordial follicles. Loss of oocyte Ube2i resulted in female infertility with major defects in stability of the primordial follicle pool, ovarian folliculogenesis, ovulation and meiosis. Transcriptomic profiling of ovaries suggests that loss of oocyte Ube2i caused defects in both oocyte- and granulosa cell-expressed genes, including NOBOX and some of its known target genes. Together, these studies show that SUMOylation is required in the mammalian oocyte during folliculogenesis for both oocyte development and communication with ovarian somatic cells.
Keywords: Fertility; Germ cell; NOBOX; PTM; Reproduction; SUMOylation; Transcription factor; UBE2I.
© 2019. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.