1 Yunnan Key Laboratory of Animal Reproduction, Kunming Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming Yunnan 650223, China2 Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, School of Life Sciences, Yunnan University, Kunming Yunnan 650091, China3 Kunming College of Life Science, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming Yunnan, 650204, China
DNA damage in oocytes can cause infertility and birth defects. DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) are highly deleterious and can substantially impair genome integrity. Homologous recombination (HR)-mediated DNA DSB repair plays dominant roles in safeguarding oocyte quantity and quality. However, little is known regarding the key players of the HR repair pathway in oocytes. Here, we identified oocyte-specific gene Ooep as a novel key component of the HR repair pathway in mouse oocytes. OOEP was required for efficient ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) kinase activation and Rad51 recombinase(RAD51)focal accumulation at DNA DSBs. Ooep null oocytes were defective in DNA DSB repair and prone to apoptosis upon exogenous DNA damage insults. Moreover, Ooep null oocytes exhibited delayed meiotic maturation. Therefore, OOEP played roles in preserving oocyte quantity and quality by maintaining genome stability. Ooep expression decreased with the advance of maternal age, suggesting its involvement in maternal aging.