MOV10L1 is necessary for protection of spermatocytes against retrotransposons by Piwi-interacting RNAs.
ABSTRACT: Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) comprise a broad class of small noncoding RNAs that function as an endogenous defense system against transposable elements. Here we show that the putative DExD-box helicase MOV10-like-1 (MOV10L1) is essential for silencing retrotransposons in the mouse male germline. Mov10l1 is specifically expressed in germ cells with increasing expression from gonocytes/type A spermatogonia to pachytene spermatocytes. Primary spermatocytes of Mov10l1(-/-) mice show activation of LTR and LINE-1 retrotransposons, followed by cell death, causing male infertility and a complete block of spermatogenesis at early prophase of meiosis I. Despite the early expression of Mov10l1, germline stem cell maintenance appears unaffected in Mov10l1(-/-) mice. MOV10L1 interacts with the Piwi proteins MILI and MIWI. MOV10L1 also interacts with heat shock 70-kDa protein 2 (HSPA2), a testis-enriched chaperone expressed in pachytene spermatocytes and also essential for male fertility. These studies reveal a crucial role of MOV10L1 in male fertility and piRNA-directed retrotransposon silencing in male germ cells and suggest that MOV10L1 functions as a key component of a safeguard mechanism for the genetic information in male germ cells of mammals.
Project description:Piwi-interacting RNAs are a diverse class of small non-coding RNAs implicated in the silencing of transposable elements and the safeguarding of genome integrity. In mammals, male germ cells express two genetically and developmentally distinct populations of piRNAs at the pre-pachytene and pachytene stages of meiosis, respectively. Pre-pachytene piRNAs are mostly derived from retrotransposons and required for their silencing. In contrast, pachytene piRNAs originate from ~3,000 genomic clusters, and their biogenesis and function remain enigmatic. Here, we report that conditional inactivation of the putative RNA helicase MOV10L1 in mouse spermatocytes produces a specific loss of pachytene piRNAs, significant accumulation of pachytene piRNA precursor transcripts, and unusual polar conglomeration of Piwi proteins with mitochondria. Pachytene piRNA-deficient spermatocytes progress through meiosis without derepression of LINE1 retrotransposons, but become arrested at the post-meiotic round spermatid stage with massive DNA damage. Our results demonstrate that MOV10L1 acts upstream of Piwi proteins in the primary processing of pachytene piRNAs and suggest that, distinct from pre-pachytene piRNAs, pachytene piRNAs fulfill a unique function in maintaining post-meiotic genome integrity.
Project description:BACKGROUND:RNA regulation by RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) involve extremely complicated mechanisms. MOV10 and MOV10L1 are two homologous RNA helicases implicated in distinct intracellular pathways. MOV10L1 participates specifically in Piwi-interacting RNA (piRNA) biogenesis and protects mouse male fertility. In contrast, the functional complexity of MOV10 remains incompletely understood, and its role in the mammalian germline is unknown. Here, we report a study of the biological and molecular functions of the RNA helicase MOV10 in mammalian male germ cells. RESULTS:MOV10 is a nucleocytoplasmic protein mainly expressed in spermatogonia. Knockdown and transplantation experiments show that MOV10 deficiency has a negative effect on spermatogonial progenitor cells (SPCs), limiting proliferation and in vivo repopulation capacity. This effect is concurrent with a global disturbance of RNA homeostasis and downregulation of factors critical for SPC proliferation and/or self-renewal. Unexpectedly, microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis is impaired due partially to decrease of miRNA primary transcript levels and/or retention of miRNA via splicing control. Genome-wide analysis of RNA targetome reveals that MOV10 binds preferentially to mRNAs with long 3'-UTR and also interacts with various non-coding RNA species including those in the nucleus. Intriguingly, nuclear MOV10 associates with an array of splicing factors, particularly with SRSF1, and its intronic binding sites tend to reside in proximity to splice sites. CONCLUSIONS:These data expand the landscape of MOV10 function and highlight a previously unidentified role initiated from the nucleus, suggesting that MOV10 is a versatile RBP involved in a broader RNA regulatory network.
Project description:Previous studies suggested that the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) contributes to mice reproduction and fertility. However, the mechanisms involved remain mostly unknown. Retrotransposon silencing by Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) is essential for germ cell maturation and, remarkably, AhR has been identified as a regulator of murine B1-SINE retrotransposons. Here, using littermate AhR+/+ and AhR-/- mice, we report that AhR regulates the general course of spermatogenesis and oogenesis by a mechanism likely to be associated with piRNA-associated proteins, piRNAs and retrotransposons. piRNA-associated proteins MVH and Miwi are upregulated in leptotene to pachytene spermatocytes with a more precocious timing in AhR-/- than in AhR+/+ testes. piRNAs and transcripts from B1-SINE, LINE-1 and IAP retrotransposons increased at these meiotic stages in AhR-null testes. Moreover, B1-SINE transcripts colocalize with MVH and Miwi in leptonema and pachynema spermatocytes. Unexpectedly, AhR-/- males have increased sperm counts, higher sperm functionality and enhanced fertility than AhR+/+ mice. In contrast, piRNA-associated proteins and B1-SINE and IAP-derived transcripts are reduced in adult AhR-/- ovaries. Accordingly, AhR-null female mice have lower numbers of follicles when compared with AhR+/+ mice. Thus, AhR deficiency differentially affects testis and ovary development possibly by a process involving piRNA-associated proteins, piRNAs and transposable elements.
Project description:In the male germ cells of placental mammals, 26-30-nt-long PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) emerge when spermatocytes enter the pachytene phase of meiosis. In mice, pachytene piRNAs derive from ~100 discrete autosomal loci that produce canonical RNA polymerase II transcripts. These piRNA clusters bear 5' caps and 3' poly(A) tails, and often contain introns that are removed before nuclear export and processing into piRNAs. What marks pachytene piRNA clusters to produce piRNAs, and what confines their expression to the germline? We report that an unusually long first exon (? 10?kb) or a long, unspliced transcript correlates with germline-specific transcription and piRNA production. Our integrative analysis of transcriptome, piRNA, and epigenome datasets across multiple species reveals that a long first exon is an evolutionarily conserved feature of pachytene piRNA clusters. Furthermore, a highly methylated promoter, often containing a low or intermediate level of CG dinucleotides, correlates with germline expression and somatic silencing of pachytene piRNA clusters. Pachytene piRNA precursor transcripts bind THOC1 and THOC2, THO complex subunits known to promote transcriptional elongation and mRNA nuclear export. Together, these features may explain why the major sources of pachytene piRNA clusters specifically generate these unique small RNAs in the male germline of placental mammals.
Project description:Nuage are amorphous ultrastructural granules in the cytoplasm of male germ cells as divergent as Drosophila, Xenopus, and Homo sapiens. Most nuage are cytoplasmic ribonucleoprotein structures implicated in diverse RNA metabolism including the regulation of PIWI-interacting RNA (piRNA) synthesis by the PIWI family (i.e., MILI, MIWI2, and MIWI). MILI is prominent in embryonic and early post-natal germ cells in nuage also called germinal granules that are often associated with mitochondria and called intermitochondrial cement. We find that GASZ (Germ cell protein with Ankyrin repeats, Sterile alpha motif, and leucine Zipper) co-localizes with MILI in intermitochondrial cement. Knockout of Gasz in mice results in a dramatic downregulation of MILI, and phenocopies the zygotene-pachytene spermatocyte block and male sterility defect observed in MILI null mice. In Gasz null testes, we observe increased hypomethylation and expression of retrotransposons similar to MILI null testes. We also find global shifts in the small RNAome, including down-regulation of repeat-associated, known, and novel piRNAs. These studies provide the first evidence for an essential structural role for GASZ in male fertility and epigenetic and post-transcriptional silencing of retrotransposons by stabilizing MILI in nuage.
Project description:MOV10L1 and its paralog MOV10 are evolutionally conserved RNA helicases involved in distinct RNA regulatory pathways. The testis-specific MOV10L1 is essential for spermatogenesis and PIWI-interacting RNAs biogenesis, whereas MOV10 is ubiquitous and multifunctional. Although both proteins have been implied to correlate with RNA G-quadruplex (RG4) in vivo, their capabilities in binding and resolving RG4 and their respective biological significance remain unclear. Herein, we comprehensively characterize and compare the activities of these two helicases on various nucleic acid substrates in vitro, with a focus on RG4 structure. We find that both MOV10L1 and MOV10 are able to resolve RG4, with MOV10L1 being more efficient in that. In contrast to MOV10, MOV10L1 prefers to bind to a junction between single-stranded RNA and RG4, which is mediated by both its N and C termini. Furthermore, we show that RG4 unwinding by MOV10L1 facilitates the cleavage of this specific RNA structure by an endonuclease.
Project description:Orderly regulation of meiosis and protection of germline genomic integrity from transposable elements are essential for male and female gamete development. In the male germline, these processes are ensured by proteins associated with cytoplasmic nuage, but morphologically similar germ granules or nuage have not been identified in mammalian female germ cells. Indeed, many mutations affecting nuage-associated proteins such as PIWI and tudor domain containing proteins 5 and 7 (TDRD5/7) can result in failure of meiosis, up-regulation of retrotransposons, and infertility only in males and not in females. We recently identified MARF1 (meiosis arrest female 1) as a protein essential for controlling meiosis and retrotransposon surveillance in oocytes; and in contrast to PIWI-pathway mutations, Marf1 mutant females are infertile, whereas mutant males are fertile. Here we put forward the hypothesis that MARF1 in mouse oocytes is a functional counterpart of the nuage-associated components of spermatocytes. We describe the developmental pattern of Marf1 expression and its roles in retrotransposon silencing and protection from DNA double-strand breaks. Analysis of MARF1 protein domains compared with PIWI and TDRD5/7 revealed that these functional similarities are reflected in remarkable structural analogies. Thus, functions that in the male germline require protein interactions and cooperative scaffolding are combined in MARF1, allowing a single molecule to execute crucial activities of meiotic regulation and protection of germline genomic integrity.
Project description:Meiosis is a specialized cell division that creates haploid germ cells from diploid progenitors. Through differential RNA expression analyses, we previously identified a number of mouse genes that were dramatically elevated in spermatocytes, relative to their very low expression in spermatogonia and somatic organs. Here, we investigated in detail <i>1700102P08Rik,</i> one of these genes, and independently conclude that it encodes a male germline-specific protein, in agreement with a recent report. We demonstrated that it is essential for pachynema progression in spermatocytes and named it male pachynema-specific (MAPS) protein. Mice lacking <i>Maps</i> (<i>Maps</i> <sup><i>-/-</i></sup> ) suffered from pachytene arrest and spermatocyte death, leading to male infertility, whereas female fertility was not affected. Interestingly, pubertal <i>Maps</i> <sup><i>-/-</i></sup> spermatocytes were arrested at early pachytene stage, accompanied by defects in DNA double-strand break (DSB) repair, crossover formation, and XY body formation. In contrast, adult <i>Maps</i> <sup><i>-/-</i></sup> spermatocytes only exhibited partially defective crossover but nonetheless were delayed or failed in progression from early to mid- and late pachytene stage, resulting in cell death. Furthermore, we report a significant transcriptional dysregulation in autosomes and XY chromosomes in both pubertal and adult <i>Maps</i> <sup><i>-/-</i></sup> pachytene spermatocytes, including failed meiotic sex chromosome inactivation (MSCI). Further experiments revealed that MAPS overexpression in vitro dramatically decreased the ubiquitination levels of cellular proteins. Conversely, in <i>Maps</i> <sup><i>-/-</i></sup> pachytene cells, protein ubiquitination was dramatically increased, likely contributing to the large-scale disruption in gene expression in pachytene cells. Thus, MAPS is a protein essential for pachynema progression in male mice, possibly in mammals in general.
Project description:Piwi-interacting RNAs (piRNAs) are essential for silencing of transposable elements in the germline but their biogenesis is poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that MOV10L1, a germ cell-specific putative RNA helicase, is associated with Piwi proteins. Genetic disruption of the MOV10L1 RNA helicase domain in mice renders both MILI and MIWI2 devoid of piRNAs. Absence of a functional piRNA pathway in Mov10l1 mutant testes causes loss of DNA methylation and subsequent de-repression of retrotransposons in germ cells. The Mov10l1 mutant males are sterile due to complete meiotic arrest. This is the first mouse mutant that expresses Piwi proteins but lacks piRNAs, suggesting that MOV10L1 is required for piRNA biogenesis and/or loading to Piwi proteins. Overall design: Examination of piRNAs in Mov10l IP and differences in total small RNA profiles in RNA helicase Mov10l+/- and Mov10l-/- mutants.
Project description:In mitotic cells, RAD9A functions in repairing DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) by homologous recombination and facilitates the process by cell cycle checkpoint control in response to DNA damage. DSBs occur naturally in the germline during meiosis but whether RAD9A participates in repairing such breaks is not known. In this study, we determined that RAD9A is indeed expressed in the male germ line with a peak of expression in late pachytene and diplotene stages, and the protein was found associated with the XY body. As complete loss of RAD9A is embryonic lethal, we constructed and characterized a mouse strain with Stra8-Cre driven germ cell-specific ablation of Rad9a beginning in undifferentiated spermatogonia in order to assess its role in spermatogenesis. Adult mutant male mice were infertile or sub-fertile due to massive loss of spermatogenic cells. The onset of this loss occurs during meiotic prophase, and there was an increase in the numbers of apoptotic spermatocytes as determined by TUNEL. Spermatocytes lacking RAD9A usually arrested in meiotic prophase, specifically in pachytene. The incidence of unrepaired DNA breaks increased, as detected by accumulation of ?H2AX and DMC1 foci on the axes of autosomal chromosomes in pachytene spermatocytes. The DNA topoisomerase II?-binding protein 1 (TOPBP1) was still localized to the sex body, albeit with lower intensity, suggesting that RAD9A may be dispensable for sex body formation. We therefore show for the first time that RAD9A is essential for male fertility and for repair of DNA DSBs during meiotic prophase I.