CRL4 Complex Regulates Mammalian Oocyte Survival and Reprogramming by Activation of TET Proteins

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Science  20 Dec 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6165, pp. 1518-1521
DOI: 10.1126/science.1244587

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The female mammal's reproductive lifespan is determined by a pool of ovarian primordial follicles that are generated early in life. Yu et al. (p. 1518) found that in mice, the ubiquitin E3 ligase complex CRL4 is essential for oocyte survival within primordial follicles and for development after fertilization. CRL4 binds to and activates an adaptor protein that mediates ubiquitination, but if any component is deleted, the genes required for oocyte maintenance and early embryo development are silenced and the female mice become infertile.


The duration of a woman’s reproductive period is determined by the size and persistence of a dormant oocyte pool. Specific oocyte genes are essential for follicle maintenance and female fertility. The mechanisms that regulate the expression of these genes are poorly understood. We found that a cullin-ring finger ligase-4 (CRL4) complex was crucial in this process. Oocyte-specific deletion of the CRL4 linker protein DDB1 or its substrate adaptor VPRBP (also known as DCAF1) caused rapid oocyte loss, premature ovarian insufficiency, and silencing of fertility maintaining genes. CRL4VPRBP activates the TET methylcytosine dioxygenases, which are involved in female germ cell development and zygote genome reprogramming. Hence, CRL4VPRBP ubiquitin ligase is a guardian of female reproductive life in germ cells and a maternal reprogramming factor after fertilization.

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