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Mammalian nucleolar protein DCAF13 is essential for ovarian follicle maintenance and oocyte growth by mediating rRNA processing

Cell Death & Differentiation (2018) | Download Citation


During mammalian oocyte growth, chromatin configuration transition from the nonsurrounded nucleolus (NSN) to surrounded nucleolus (SN) type plays a key role in the regulation of gene expression and acquisition of meiotic and developmental competence by the oocyte. Nonetheless, the mechanism underlying chromatin configuration maturation in oocytes is poorly understood. Here we show that nucleolar protein DCAF13 is an important component of the ribosomal RNA (rRNA)-processing complex and is essential for oocyte NSN–SN transition in mice. A conditional knockout of Dcaf13 in oocytes led to the arrest of oocyte development in the NSN configuration, follicular atresia, premature ovarian failure, and female sterility. The DCAF13 deficiency resulted in pre-rRNA accumulation in oocytes, whereas the total mRNA level was not altered. Further exploration showed that DCAF13 participated in the 18S rRNA processing in growing oocytes. The lack of 18S rRNA because of DCAF13 deletion caused a ribosome assembly disorder and then reduced global protein synthesis. DCAF13 interacted with a protein of the core box C/D ribonucleoprotein, fibrillarin, i.e., a factor of early pre-rRNA processing. When fibrillarin was knocked down in the oocytes from primary follicles, follicle development was inhibited as well, indicating that an rRNA processing defect in the oocyte indeed stunts chromatin configuration transition and follicle development. Taken together, these results elucidated the in vivo function of novel nucleolar protein DCAF13 in maintaining mammalian oogenesis.

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Edited by H. Zhang


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This study is funded by the National Key Research and Developmental Program of China (2017YFC1001500, 2016YFC1000600, and 2017YFC1001100), National Natural Science Foundation of China (31528016, 31371449, and 31671558), and the Key Research and Development Program of Zhejiang Province (2017C03022).

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Author notes

  1. These authors contributed equally: Jue Zhang, Yin-Li Zhang, Long-Wen Zhao


  1. Life Sciences Institute, Zhejiang University, 310058, Hangzhou, China

    • Jue Zhang
    • , Long-Wen Zhao
    • , Jing-Xin Guo
    • , Jia-Li Yu
    • , Shu-Yan Ji
    • , Lan-Rui Cao
    • , Li Shen
    •  & Heng-Yu Fan
  2. Key Laboratory of Reproductive Dysfunction Management of Zhejiang Province, Assisted Reproduction Unit, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, 310016, Hangzhou, China

    • Yin-Li Zhang
    • , Song-Ying Zhang
    •  & Heng-Yu Fan
  3. Assisted Reproduction Unit, Second Hospital of Guangdong Province, China Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China

    • Xiang-Hong Ou


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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest

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Correspondence to Heng-Yu Fan.

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